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Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 1990 Dec;11(12):639-42.

Increasing prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in the United States.

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Department of Medicine, Miriam Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island 02906.


In the period 1975 to 1981, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged as an important nosocomial pathogen in tertiary care centers in the United States. To determine if the prevalence of this organism has continued to increase, a questionnaire was sent to hospital epidemiologists in 360 acute care hospitals. A total of 256 (71%) of the 360 individuals responded. Overall, 97% (246/256) of responding hospitals reported having patients with MRSA in the period 1987 through 1989. Respondents in 217 hospitals provided estimates of the number of cases seen in 1987, 1988 and 1989. The percentage of respondents reporting one or more patients with MRSA increased from 88% in 1987 to 96.3% in 1989 (p = .0008). The percent of respondents reporting large numbers (greater than or equal to 50) of cases per year increased from 18% in 1987 to 32% in 1989 (p = .0006). Increasing frequency of large outbreaks was observed in community, community-teaching, federal, municipal and university hospitals.

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