Scottish Surveillance of Healthcare Associated Infection Programme (SSHAIP)

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Staphylococcus aureus Bacteraemia Surveillance

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 aureus.

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 Quarterly Report

Commentary on quarterly epidemiological data on Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) and Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemias (SAB) in Scotland

Publications

Further Information Sources on MRSA