MRSA among drug users increasing

A new comparative study suggests that rates of MRSA infection in injection drug users in Vancouver have significantly increased over the last six years highlighting the need for interventional methods in high-risks groups.

The researchers from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver General Hospital, and Vancouver Coastal Health report their findings in the February 2008 issue of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

Current statistics show that there are an estimated 13 million injection drug users worldwide. Past studies indicate that nasal or skin colonization with Staphylococcus aureus occurs at a higher rate in people who abuse drugs and in addition poses an increased risk of subsequent infections in injection drug users.

In a study conducted in 2000, researchers found that among 229 injection drug users, 27% had S. aureus nasal colonization and an overall MRSA colonization rate of 7.4%. In the current study researchers collected 301 samples from injection drug users and found an S. aureus colonization rate of 39.5%. Further testing of the S. aureus isolates showed an overall MRSA rate of 18.6% indicating a significant increase over the last six years.

“MRSA nasal colonization in this population has increased significantly within the last six years,” say the researchers. “This study highlights the need for interventional measures in high-risk groups, not only to minimize further acquisition in these populations but also to prevent the spread of community strains within health care facilities and the general population.”

(G.N. Al-Rawahi, A.G. Schreader, S.D. Porter, D.L. Roscoe, R. Gustafson, E.A. Bryce. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus nasal carriage among injection drug users: six years later. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 46. 2: 477-479.)

Source: American Society for Microbiology, USA

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