Since April 2002, national quarterly reports
on meticillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteraemias
have been published quarterly by Health Protection Scotland (HPS). The reports are
based on routine laboratory reporting to HPS and the definitions and practices used
were agreed following meetings with microbiologists.
What is Staphylococcus aureus?
Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium that is a common coloniser of human
skin and mucosa. Staphylococcus aureus can cause disease, particularly
if there is an opportunity for the bacteria to enter the body. Illnesses such as
skin and wound infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia and bacteraemia (blood
stream infection) may then develop. Most strains of this bacterium are sensitive
to many antibiotics, and infections can be effectively treated. Some S. aureus
bacteria are resistant to the antibiotic meticillin, termed meticillin-resistant
Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
What is bacteraemia?
Bacteraemia occurs when bacteria get into the blood stream. Blood stream infection
is also sometimes called septicaemia, which implies greater severity/clinical significance.
A wide variety of bacteria can cause bacteraemia, one of the most common being Staphylococcus
How are MRSA data reported to HPS?
Data on all MRSA bacteraemias from 1990 to 2000 was reported on a voluntary basis
from Scottish diagnostic laboratories. Following the Scottish Executive Health Department's
Health Department Letter (HDL 2001 (57)) 'A Framework for National Surveillance of
HAI Infection in Scotland' a new initiative started whereby weekly data on MRSA
bacteraemias would be collected on a mandatory basis from all 26 microbiology laboratories
in Scotland and sent to HPS.
MRSA Bacteraemia Validation Study
MRSA bacteraemia rates are fed into the Performance Assessment Framework and are
utilised by the Scottish Executive in order to evaluate the performance of individual
Health Boards. It is therefore imperative that the data collected are accurate and
complete to ensure valid national reporting.
In order to assess the accuracy and validity of reporting to HPS a validation study
was conducted in 2004 and the report was published in February 2005.
Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemias
Commentary on quarterly epidemiological data on Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) and Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemias (SAB) in Scotland
Further Information Sources on MRSA