Elimination of MRSA in Nursing Homes Unlikely to be Achieved, Researchers Say

Residents of nursing homes are commonly colonized with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) but there is a limited understanding of the dynamics and determinants of spread in this setting. To address this gap, Batina, et al. (2016) sought to use mathematical modeling to assess the epidemic potential of MRSA in nursing homes and to determine conditions under which non-USA300 and USA300 MRSA could be eliminated or reduced in the facilities.

Model parameters were estimated from data generated during a longitudinal study of MRSA in 6 Wisconsin nursing homes. The data included subject colonization status with strain-specific MRSA collected every three months for up to one year. Deterministic and stochastic co-colonization and single-strain models were developed to describe strain-specific dynamics of MRSA in these facilities. Basic reproduction numbers of strain-independent MRSA, non-USA300 and USA300 MRSA were estimated numerically. The impact of antibiotic use in the past three months on the prevalence of strain-specific MRSA and associated basic reproduction numbers were evaluated.

The researchers say their models predicted that MRSA would persist in Wisconsin nursing homes, and non-USA300 would remain the dominant circulating strain. MRSA eradication was theoretically achievable by elimination of MRSA-positive admissions over the course of years. Substantial reductions in MRSA prevalence could be attained through marked increase in clearance rates or reduction in MRSA-positive admissions sustained over years. The basic reproduction number of strain-independent MRSA was 0.18 (95 % CI = 0.13–0.23). Recent antibiotic use increased the prevalence of strain-specific MRSA and associated basic reproduction numbers, but was unlikely to lead to an outbreak.

Based on their model, the researchers conclude that MRSA elimination from nursing homes, while theoretically possible, was unlikely to be achieved in practice. Decolonization therapy that can sustain higher clearance rates or lower MRSA-positive introductions over years may reduce strain-specific prevalence of MRSA in the facilities, and antibiotic stewardship may contribute to this effort. Large-scale MRSA outbreaks were unlikely in this setting.

Reference: Batina NG, Crnich CJ, Anderson DF and Döpfer D. Identifying conditions for elimination and epidemic potential of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in nursing homes. Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control. 20165:32

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