Reports claim patients who contract a potentially deadly drug-resistant bacteria in hospital carry the infection home and transmit it to one-fifth of household contacts.
According to a report published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, many patients with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections, ranging from boils to more severe infections of the blood and lungs, are discharged from hospital still carrying the infection.
A study looked at 1,501 adult patients in French hospitals who were screened for MRSA before discharge to home healthcare between February 2003 and March 2004.
The findings show that 191 of the 1,501 patients had MRSA (12.7%) before hospital discharge, and of 148 MRSA carriers who were followed up, 75 (50.6%) got rid of the infection within one year of hospital discharge.
However, among 188 household contacts of the 191 MRSA patients, 36 (19.1%) acquired MRSA during the follow-up period, although none developed an infection.
Dr Jean-Christophe Lucet, of Bichat-Claude Bernard Hospital, Assistance Publique-Hopitaux de Paris, and colleagues said: “Patients with major health problems are increasingly discharged to home healthcare, which creates new opportunities for the transmission of hospital-acquired MRSA.”