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MRSA infection cases on the decline

MRSA, a hospital-acquired infection that kills at least 15,000 people a year in the United States, may be in retreat as health providers strengthen practices to control its spread.

The rate at which patients contracted this drug-resistant germ, one of the most common causes of infections in hospitals, dropped 28 percent from 2005 through 2008 in nine metropolitan areas across the country, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

There was also a 17 percent decline in health-care-associated outbreaks that occur outside hospitals, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which collected and analyzed the data.

As hospitals and nursing homes wrestle with these bacterial diseases, which cost about $20 billion yearly, the CDC study suggests that federal guidelines on ways to contain them through better hygiene and standardized practices may be starting to work, said Russell Olmsted of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control Epidemiology, in Washington.

Every year, about 90,000 people are sickened by invasive MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), the most virulent staphylococcus bacteria typically found in hospitals, according to Alex Kallen, chief medical officer for the Atlanta-based CDC and lead author of the study. - Bloomberg News

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