CDC scientists track the number and kind of MRSA infections throughout the country using CDC’s two complimentary systems. Together, these systems give CDC, other Federal agencies such as CMS, health departments and healthcare facilities information to better understand where MRSA infections are happening and where to put resources to help stop infections.
- National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) – Information sent from healthcare facilities to NHSN allows CDC to determine how healthcare facilities overall are performing against national infection prevention goals. It also allows CDC, health departments and facilities the ability to identify, report, and help specific facilities and units with high infection rates.
- Emerging Infections Program (EIP) – Using information from several locations throughout the country, CDC estimates the national burden of MRSA and can identify people most at risk. This system includes MRSA infections that happen in both the general community and in healthcare facilities.
HHS Action Plan – CDC is working with healthcare facilities to meet the goals set forth in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-associated Infections.
Studies show that about one in three (33%) people carry staph in their nose, usually without any illness. Two in 100 people carry MRSA. There are not data showing the total number of people who get MRSA skin infections in the community.
Although MRSA is still a major patient threat, a CDC study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine showed that invasive (life-threatening) MRSA infections in healthcare settings are declining. Invasive MRSA infections that began in hospitals declined 54% between 2005 and 2011, with 30,800 fewer severe MRSA infections. In addition, the study showed 9,000 fewer deaths in hospital patients in 2011 versus 2005.
This study (or report) complements data from the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) that found rates of MRSA bloodstream infections occurring in hospitalized patients fell nearly 50% from 1997 to 2007.
Taken together and with other reports such as the March 2011 CDC Vital Signs article [PDF – 2.75 MB], and a 2013 study showing a decrease in overall central line-associated bloodstream infections, these studies provide evidence that rates of hospital-onset, severe MRSA infections in the United States are falling. While MRSA remains an important public health problem and more remains to be done to further decrease risks of developing these infections, this decrease in healthcare-associated MRSA infections is encouraging.
For more information about CDC surveillance programs and reports related to MRSA, visit:
- CDC MRSA website
- CDC Active Bacterial Core Surveillance [PDF – 152 KB]
- CDC Vital Signs Report [PDF – 2.75 MB]
- National Healthcare Safety Network
- NHSN Annual Reports
- CDC Safe Healthcare Blog
- CDC Funding to Prevent HAIs including MRSA
To see how states are working to prevent HAIs including MRSA, view this interactive map of state-based prevention activities.
- Page last reviewed: March 3, 2016
- Page last updated: May 22, 2017
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