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MRSA Infection Risk Found Higher Among Illicit Drug Users

Drug users in VA cohort had three times the USA300 MRSA infection risk as non-drug users

FRIDAY, Aug. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Patients who use illicit drugs are three times more likely to acquire USA300 methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia than patients who don't use illicit drugs, according to a study conducted in veterans hospitals and reported in the September issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Kristen M. Kreisel, of the University of Maryland in Baltimore, and colleagues studied 300 patients with bacteremia caused by S. aureus at four Veterans Affairs medical centers during 2004 to 2008. The researchers compared the incidence of USA300 MRSA bacteremia, as opposed to other S. aureus strains, for those who had used illicit drugs and those who had not.

The researchers found that the 7 percent of the cohort who were illicit drug users were three times more likely to have USA300 MRSA bacteremia (as opposed to bacteremia caused by other S. aureus strains) than were patients who were not illicit drug users (adjusted relative risk, 3.04). However, the association of illicit drug use with USA300 MRSA bacteremia decreased over the study period (P for trend = 0.23). The proportion of patients with USA300 MRSA bacteremia who were not users of illicit drugs grew over time, suggesting the strain has spread to populations other than illicit drug users.

"Focusing infection control efforts on high-risk groups such as illicit drug users might slow the progression of the USA300 MRSA epidemic in areas of the country where the association between illicit drug use and USA300 is still high," the authors write.

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