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Strict Infection Control Leads to Low Incidence of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Bloodstream Infection over 20 Years

  • Andreas F. Widmer (a1), Botond Lakatos (a1) and Reno Frei (a2)



Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a worldwide issue associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Multiple infection control (IC) approaches have been tested to control its spread; however, the success of the majority of trials has been short-lived and many efforts have failed. We report the long-term success of MRSA control from a prospective observational study over 20 years.


University Hospital Basel is a large tertiary care center with a median bed capacity of 855 and 5 intensive care units (ICUs); currently, the facility has >32,000 admissions per year.


The IC program at the University Hospital Basel was created in 1993, after 2 MRSA outbreaks. The program has included strict contact precautions with single rooms for MRSA-colonized or -infected patients, targeted admission screening of high-risk patients and healthcare workers at risk for carriage, molecular typing of all MRSA strains and routine decolonization of MRSA carriers including healthcare workers. We used the incidence of MRSA bloodstream infections (BSIs) to assess the effectiveness of this program. All MRSA cases were prospectively classified using a standardized case report form in nosocomial and nonnosocomial cases, based on CDC definitions.


Between 1993 and 2012, 540,669 blood samples were cultured. The number of blood cultures increased from 865 per 10,000 patient days in 1993 to 1,568 per 10,000 patient days in 2012 (P<.001). We identified 1,268 episodes of S. aureus BSI from 1,204 patients. MRSA accounted for 34 episodes (2.7%) and 24 of these (1.9%) were nosocomial. MRSA BSI incidence varied between 0 and 0.27 per 10,000 patient days and remained stable with no significant variation throughout the study period (P=.882).


Long-term control of MRSA is feasible when a bundle of IC precautions is strictly enforced over time.

Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2015;00(0): 1–8


Corresponding author

Address all correspondence to Andreas F. Widmer, MD, MSc, Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology, University Hospital Basel, Petersgraben 4, 4031 Basel, Switzerland (


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PREVIOUS PRESENTATION. Presented in part at the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Conference (ECCMID), Barcelona, Spain, May 10–13, 2014.



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