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PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e52722. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052722. Epub 2013 Jan 2.

Epidemics of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in the United States: a meta-analysis.

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  • 1Department of Applied Mathematics, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, United States of America.


Staphylococcus aureus is the most frequent cause of skin and soft tissue infections in humans. Methicillin-resistant strains of S. aureus (MRSA) that emerged in the 1960s presented a relatively limited public health threat until the 1990s, when novel community-associated (CA-) MRSA strains began circulating. CA-MRSA infections are now common, resulting in serious and sometimes fatal infections in otherwise healthy people. Although some have suggested that there is an epidemic of CA-MRSA in the U.S., the origins, extent, and geographic variability of CA-MRSA infections are not known. We present a meta-analysis of published studies that included trend data from a single site or region, and derive summary epidemic curves of CA-MRSA spread over time. Our analysis reveals a dramatic increase in infections over the past two decades, with CA-MRSA strains now endemic at unprecedented levels in many US regions. This increase has not been geographically homogeneous, and appears to have occurred earlier in children than adults.

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