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Decline in Hospital Staph Infections Stalled

CDC calls for improved infection control after an increase in related deaths

March 7, 2019

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is calling for hospital staff, including environmental services (EVS) workers, to step up on infection control practices in response to a slowdown in the previously declining rate of Staphylococcus aureus (staph) infections.

Staph is a bacterium commonly found on the skin and in the noses of healthy people. There are two variants of the bacteria: methicillin-sensitive staph aureus (MSSA) or methicillin-resistant staph aureus (MRSA). Both MRSA and MSSA can cause skin infections, bloodstream infections, sepsis, and even death.

The rates of MRSA bloodstream infections diagnosed in hospitals declined an average 17.1 percent every year between 2005 and 2013. However, no change in the rate of staph infections has occurred since 2014, according to a report released this week by the CDC.

The report found more than 119,000 people were diagnosed with bloodstream staph infections in the United States in 2017, and almost 20,000 died. People at greatest risk for serious staph infections include those who stay in health care facilities, who have surgery, or who have medical devices implanted in their bodies.

Best practices for EVS staff to eliminate staph bacteria include cleaning and disinfection of floors, vacuuming dust with HEPA-or micron filter-fitted vacuums, and careful cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas in hospitals, such as doorknobs and medical equipment.

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