MONDAY, Aug. 10, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- A French study estimates that more than 12 percent of people discharged from a hospital into home health care are infected with MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and about 20 percent of them may transmit the organism to others in their household.
The researchers, Dr. Jean-Christophe Lucet, of Bichat-Claude Bernard Hospital in Paris, and his colleagues, screened 1,501 hospitalized adults for MRSA before they were discharged and found that 191 (12.7 percent) were infected. For the next year, those found to be infected and other people in their households were checked for MRSA every three months.
The 191 people with MRSA had 188 household contacts who took part in the study. Of those contact, 36 (19 percent) acquired MRSA, but none of them developed an infection. People most likely to be colonized with MRSA included those who were older and those who helped provide health care for the infected person. Sharing the same bed or bedroom did not increase the risk of MRSA transmission, according to the study.
The findings suggest that MRSA transmission is most likely among people who are at high risk for hand contamination while caring for people, the study's authors noted.
Because no infections developed in any of the household contacts who acquired MRSA, it's not clear whether such transmission poses a serious public health problem, the researchers said. Regardless, "household contacts should apply infection control measures similar to those recommended in the hospital setting," they wrote.
Of the people discharged from the hospital with MRSA, about half of those followed for a year were found to be clear of infection, especially those who had become more self-sufficient in daily activities, the researchers said.
The study is in the Aug. 10/24 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about MRSA.