A research team based at the University of Edinburgh
have identified how the Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
) superbug spreads between different hospitals, from big city hospitals to smaller community hospitals. Infection rates have been rising
in recent years in smaller hospitals.
According to the research summary
, to show this spread, the research group looked at the genetic make-up of more than 80 variants of a major type of MRSA found in hospitals. The scientists genetically mapped the MRSA which had infected groups of patients and then traced their spread.
As the data was examined further it was found that variants of MRSA circulating in regional hospitals probably originated in large city hospitals. This was most likely due to high levels of patient traffic in large hospitals which acted as a ‘hub’ for transmission between patients, who may then be transferred or treated in regional hospitals.
The study was led by Dr Ross Fitzgerald, of The Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh and written up as a research paper.
P. R. McAdam, et al. Molecular tracing of the emergence, adaptation, and transmission of hospital-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012
As a lesson for policy makers, the findings may mean that the referral of patients to different hospitals is a major cause of MRSA transmission.