Study of MRSA bloodstream infections in children

The UK's Health Protection Agency (HPA) is to begin a study reviewing bloodstream infections in children caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

The study, commissioned by the Department of Health, will look in more detail at children under 16 who acquire MRSA bloodstream infections, and will aim to establish which groups of patients are at particularly high risk of developing these infections. The study will also help to confirm the number of blood stream infections in children.

Although most cases of bloodstream infections caused by MRSA occur in adults there has been, nonetheless, an upward trend in the number of infections in children. According to the latest data, numbers of reported cases in children increased from 4 in 1990 to 75 in 2000, The number of reports has however remained relatively stable in the last few years with 70-85 cases reported each year.

Dr Alan Johnson, one of the principal investigators for the study at the Agency said, “Paediatricians and microbiologists working in hospitals will be asked to notify the Agency about cases of MRSA bloodstream infections in children. We will also actively encourage hospitals to send the isolates of MRSA obtained from patients to our national Reference Laboratories for investigation.

“Through this study we hope to confirm the number of MRSA bloodstream infections that occur in children and will learn more about the features of the infection in this group of patients. This information will in turn help us to inform future prevention and control measures”

The study starts on the 1st June and will be undertaken by the Health Protection Agency in collaboration with the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit, St George’s Hospital (London), Health Protection Scotland and the National Disease Surveillance Centre (Dublin).


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