World MRSA Day – All the Staph. you need to know

World Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Day raises awareness for the global public health crisis that can cause severe patient consequences and drive significant healthcare costs. MRSA infection is one of the leading causes of hospital acquired infections and is commonly associated with significant morbidity, mortality, length of stay and a major cost burden.1

What is MRSA? All the Staph. you need to know.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium commonly found in healthy individuals on the skin and in the nose. There are many strains of S. aureus which can be readily treated with antibiotics; however, some strains of S. aureus are resistant to an antibiotic called methicillin these are known as MRSA.

MRSA has become a globally significant problem; infections occur commonly among people in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Some strains spread between people in the community and are referred to as community acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA). These outbreaks are often found in densely populated community areas such as schools, childcare centres, and aged care facilities. Individuals at risk of MRSA infection include those that are immunosuppressed, diabetics and those with chronic skin conditions. 2Patients at risk of developing healthcare acquired MRSA (HA-MRSA) infections are those with post-operative wounds, pneumonia, and implanted medical devices. MRSA infections can systemically occur in the heart, lungs, joints, bone, and blood stream.3

Due to antibiotic resistance, treatment of MRSA can be difficult. First line antibiotics will not work, leading to the use of specialised antibiotics requiring close monitoring. The use of antibiotics and monitoring is often on a case-by-case basis.4

The best way to avoid MRSA infection and transmission is prevention. As we have seen with COVID-19, the most effective form of prevention can be as simple as good general hygiene practices. In a healthcare setting, government mandated screening processes have been put in place whereby upon admission or transfer to a hospital, swabs are taken to determine if a patient has MRSA. If a patient tests positive the hospital will implement infection control procedures as required.

Due to its importance screening tests for MRSA are completed in large numbers and sent to microbiology laboratories for assessment. Majority of these tests prove to be negative for MRSA yet, the laboratory resource demand is high. Microbiologists work through a high number of negative samples which impacts the diagnosis of positive samples, affecting patient care. Innovative technology such as the APAS Independence can help to minimise these delays to patients.

APAS Independence uses intelligent imaging and machine learning platforms to improve patient outcomes by identifying and automatically reporting, in this case MRSA negative samples. This allows microbiologists to focus on positive samples which improve turnaround time and patient care through rapid test results.

“Compared to manual reading, the APAS (Independence) demonstrates high accuracy and detected low-level positives missed by manual reading.”5

APAS WebReport

1 Siddiqui AH, Koirala J. Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) [Updated 2020 Jul 19]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available here.

2 NSW Government, Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in the community: Information for the public [updated 2012 Jul 1]. Available here.

3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) [updated 2019 Feb 28]. Available here.

4 Harris A, MD, MPH, Patient education: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) (Beyond the basics) [updated 2019 Jan 25]. Available here .

5 Gammel N, Ross T, Lewis S, Olson M, Henciak S, Harris R, Carroll K.C., ASM Microbe 2020. Comparison of an Automated Plate Assessment System (APAS Independence) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Manual Plate Reading of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus Chromagar Surveillance Cultures. Available here.