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NEW YORK -- In response to the increasing clinical and economic burdens of the potentially deadly bacteria called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), an interdisciplinary group of public health, industry and infectious disease experts has united to form the MRSA Leadership Initiative. The initiative will focus on global prevention and management of the MRSA burden through development of public and professional awareness and education programs; clinical, epidemiological and outcomes research; and projects targeted towards prevention among high-risk patient populations. The collaborative effort is being supported by Pfizer Inc.
This multi-year commitment will help get proven, life-saving improvement techniques put into action, said Dr. Denise Cardo, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)s division of healthcare quality promotion, which has created a campaign to prevent antimicrobial resistance in healthcare settings. MRSA is a priority for the public health community.
The MRSA Leadership Initiative includes experts in a variety of fields, including infectious diseases, nursing, long-term care, pharmacy, epidemiology, medical ethics, healthcare purchasers, payers, healthcare administration, public health and health policy. Government, physician and patient groups also will be involved in developing and implementing programs.
MRSA is resistant to many classes of commonly-used antibiotics and can cause several types of infections; the most common are skin, bloodstream and pneumonia. These infections can be severe or even fatal if not identified and treated early and appropriately. Until recently, MRSA infections were mostly confined to hospitals, where patient risk factors included old age, a compromised immune system, recent surgery or an intensive care unit stay. The cost associated with the treatment of hospitalized patients with MRSA infections has been estimated to be between $3.2 and $4.2 billion annually in the United States.
MRSA is now increasing, not only in the hospital setting, but also in communities around the United States and the world:
MRSA incidence rates as a percentage of Staphylococcus aureus infections in many intensive care units have increased from two percent to approximately 60 percent over the past 30 years.
A recent CDC study showed MRSA infections are now common outside the hospital setting and occur in otherwise healthy people. Specifically, 8 to 20 percent of all MRSA patient samples examined in the study were community strains.
Community outbreaks have been documented in sports teams and prisons, and are associated with close skin-to-skin contact, open cuts or wounds, crowded living conditions and poor hygiene. The emergence of MRSA infections within the community among young and otherwise healthy people makes these infections unexpected and sometimes difficult to diagnose.
Early identification of an MRSA infection is key to ensuring a patients successful treatment and reducing the risk of long-term complications of the infection, said Dr. John E. McGowan Jr., professor, Department of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, and member of the MRSA Leadership Advisory Group. The fact that these infections are increasingly contracted in the communities where we live and play, in addition to the hospital, means we must become more focused and vigilant in our efforts to prevent, properly diagnose and treat them.
The mission of the MRSA Leadership Initiative will be to address the growing burden of MRSA infections and prioritize programs to halt the spread of MRSA.
Pfizer has a strong heritage in infectious diseases to bring to this effort, said Cathryn Clary, MD, vice president of U.S. Medical, Pfizer Inc. Pfizer is supporting the MRSA Leadership Initiative to help reduce the burden of MRSA infections not only in the hospital setting, but in communities where its damaging effects are growing.
Pfizer has an established and lengthy history in the field of infectious diseases. Pfizer remains committed to developing and researching new and existing anti-infective treatments to stay ahead of bacterial resistance.