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Infection. 2010 Jun;38(3):159-64. doi: 10.1007/s15010-010-0001-8. Epub 2010 Mar 16.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in Europe: which infection control measures are taken?

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Institute for Hygiene and Environmental Medicine, Charité-University Medicine Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Hindenburgdamm 27, 12203, Berlin, Germany.



The prevalence of hospital-acquired Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections shows a huge variety across Europe. Some countries reported a reduction in MRSA frequency, while in others countries increasing MRSA rates have been observed. To reduce the spread of MRSA in the healthcare setting, a sufficient MRSA management is essential. In order to reflect the MRSA management across Europe, MRSA prevention policies were surveyed in ten countries.


The survey was performed by questionnaires in European intensive care units (ICUs) and surgical departments (SDs) in 2004. Questionnaires asked for availability of bedside alcohol hand-disinfection, isolation precautions, decolonization and screening methods. The study was embedded in the Hospital in Europe Link for Infection Control through Surveillance (HELICS) Project, a European collaboration of national surveillance networks. HELICS was initiated in order to harmonize the national surveillance activities in the individual countries. Therefore, HELICS participants developed surveillance modules for nosocomial infections in ICUs and for surgical site infections (SSI). The coordination of this surveillance has now been transferred to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).


A total of 526 ICUs and 223 SDs from ten countries sent data on organisational characteristics and policies, demonstrating wide variations in care. Substantial variation existed in availability of bedside alcohol hand-disinfection, which was much higher in participating ICUs rather than in SDs (86 vs. 59%). Surveillance cultures of contact patients were obtained in approximately three-fourths of all SDs (72%) and ICUs (75%). Countries with decreasing MRSA proportions showed especially strict implementation of various prevention measures.


The data obtained regarding MRSA prevention measures should stimulate infection control professionals to pursue further initiatives. Particularly, the vigorous MRSA management in countries with decreasing MRSA proportions should encourage hospitals to implement preventive measures in order to reduce the spread of MRSA.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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