THE NUMBER of patients in England infected with MRSA has fallen by 10% in the last year, while Clostridium difficile rates also appear to be levelling out, latest official figures show.
There has been a downward trend in MRSA rates in all regions of the country since September 2006, the Health Protection Agency said in its annual report on hospital infections.
Between April 2006 and March 2007, 6,381 cases of MRSA were reported, compared with 7,096 cases between April 2005 and March 2006.
Georgia Duckworth, head of the HPA’s healthcare-associated infection department, said:
‘We are now seeing an acceleration in the reduction of the numbers of MRSA bloodstream infections. This is a major achievement against the seemingly unstoppable rise throughout the 1990s.’
The was also a 10% drop in the latest available quarterly MRSA figures – from 1,447 between January and March to 1,303 between April and June.
C. difficile cases in the over-65s showed a 13% drop over the same period, from 15,639 cases to 13,660. However, C. difficile infection rates are more complex than those for MRSA, showing more dramatic seasonal fluctuations with increases in winter.
Professor Pete Borriello, director of the HPA centre for infections, said: ‘The rate of the [C. diff] rise has been lower this year, and it looks like we are now going into a plateau. We are at a time where there is a lot of change and situations are evolving, so let’s hope it will go into a downward turn.’
For the first time the agency also published C. difficile figures for patients under 65, with 2,890 cases reported between April and June 2007.
However, a small study into the number of MRSA-related deaths, conducted by the HPA in conjunction with the Office for National Statistics, revealed a significant number of patients died within 30 days of contracting MRSA bacteraemia.
A specialist panel, which reviewed a randomly selected sample of 38 patients, found MRSA to be the main or contributing cause of death in 22 cases.