Staphylococcus aureus (staph) infections remain a significant threat, and efforts to reduce them appear to be stalling, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report.
More than 119,000 people suffered from staph infections in the United States in 2017, with nearly 20,000 people dying from them.
Furthermore, while hospital infection control efforts successfully reduced rates of serious staph infections in the United States by about 17% each year from 2005-2012, recent data show that this success is trailing off. The recent rise in staph infections may be linked, in part, to the nationwide opioid epidemic. Nearly 1 in 10 serious staph infections in 2016 occurred in people who inject drugs, such as opioids.
As the report notes, "Despite significant reductions in healthcare–associated methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) infections, progress is slowing. Methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) infections have not decreased as much in hospitals and might be increasing in the community."
According to CDC, the risk for serious staph infection is greatest when people:
stay in healthcare facilities or have surgery;
have medical devices placed in their body;
inject drugs; and
come into close contact with someone who has already staph.
To better protect patients from staph, CDC advises healthcare organizations to:
make staph prevention a priority;
follow CDC recommendations, including contact precautions (gloves and gowns), to prevent the spread of staph;
consider additional interventions (e.g., screening, decolonizing high-risk patients);
treat infections appropriately and rapidly; and
educate patients about how to avoid infection and spread, and about early signs of sepsis.