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Friday 21st October 2016

Universal tests for MRSA

13th March 2007

A team from Nottingham University has developed a test which can identify MRSA, in all its forms, within hours.

The scientists say their test would enable all patients to be screened for superbugs before being admitted to hospital thus cutting MRSA rates in the UK.  The new test scans for 84 MRSA genes and can show if a patient has MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus), MSSA (methicillin sensitive staphylococcus aureus) and the community-acquired strain of the bug which has been spreading among healthy people.  The test can also identify the Panton-Valentine Leukocidin (PVL) form of MRSA, which (as we reported earlier in the year) recently killed two people and infected six others at a West Midlands hospital.

Current research suggests that up to 8% of hospital patients are carriers of MRSA but only 1% are infected while they are in hospital.  Identifying carriers before they are admitted means they could be isolated and the superbug stopped in its tracks. The test currently used by NHS trusts to check if someone has basic MRSA takes up to three days and tests for PVL MRSA can take up to four weeks. The Department of Health supports universal screening but has left it up to individual trusts to decide upon their own course of action.  Professor Richard James, from the Nottingham University team said, “The Department of Health says everyone should be screened, but leaves it up to individual trusts to decide what to do. The evidence is that if you decide who is most at risk, and just screen them, you're going to miss some who might be carriers who could then transmit MRSA to patients around them."

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