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JAMA. 1983 May 27;249(20):2803-7.

Burn units as a source of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections.


During a 3 1/2-year period (January 1978 through June 1981), 245 patients in a university hospital became colonized or infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. During the first 18 months, the incidence of colonization and infection was only 0.05%. After a focal outbreak of methicillin-resistant S aureus in the burn unit, acquisition of the organism by patients on other wards increased significantly. Nonburn patients acquired the organism more often during time periods when newly admitted burn patients acquired methicillin-resistant S aureus. After the burn unit was closed, acquisition of the organism among nonburn patients on adult surgical and medical services decreased significantly. A questionnaire survey of other institutions disclosed that large outbreaks of this infection occurred more frequently in hospitals with burn units. These studies suggest that the occurrence of methicillin-resistant S aureus infections in burn units may lead to increased transmission of the organism to nonburn patients and that control of the infection in such units may reduce spread of the organism to patients without burns.

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