CDC Emphasizes Prevention Efforts to Stop Growing Trend of Staph Infections


The CDC urges health care providers to implement its recommendations and to regularly review their facility infection data, among other intervention methods.

The CDC has released new updates, in its Vital Signs Report, on the prevalence of Staphylococcus aureus (staph infection) in the United States and is now urging health care providers to take additional measures to stop the spread of infection.

The report was taken from population-based surveillance data from CDC Emerging Infections Programs in 6 states and 2 large electronic health record (EHR) databases representing more than 400 acute care hospitals across the United States. It described more than 119,000 bloodstream infections and approximately 20,000 deaths in 2017.1

In a press briefing on Tuesday, Anne Schuchat, MD, principal deputy director of the CDC, noted that although there had been a 17% reduction of bloodstream-related methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections between 2005 and 2012, progress has since stalled. In fact, there was an increase of 3.9% in community-onset MRSA infections between 2012-2017. The problem is believed to have stemmed from decreased adherence to CDC guidelines, such as targeted screening of those at risk. This lack of adherence, according to Schuchat, has created a substantial need for greater monitoring and prevention from all areas of health care that may come in contact with the disease.1

Prescribers play a vital role in decreasing infections through antimicrobial medications, by treating infections appropriately and rapidly if they do occur, and by educating patients about prevention methods and early signs of sepsis, according to Schuchat.

“[A]nti-microbial use has been strongly associated with anti-microbial resistance in general. We actually have some information in the MMWR today from the VA analysis that suggested a decrease in Fluoroquinolone prescriptions in the latter period, which may have contributed to the continued decline in resistant infections that they saw,” said Schuchat. “So we think that pharmacies play an important role in making sure that patients get good information and working with their facilities on recommended drugs to be used.”

In the United States, S aureus is a leading cause of healthcare-associated infections. The bacteria often spread through direct contact with an infected person, by using a contaminated object, or by inhaling infected droplets dispersed by sneezing or coughing.2

The opioid crisis may be related to the rise in staph infections. According to the report, people who inject drugs are 16 times more likely to develop a staph infection than those who do not, and in 2016, this population accounted for approximately 9% of serious staph infections in the United States, which was up from 4% in 2011. Patients who exhibit repeating staph infections should prompt healthcare providers to consider whether drug use could be the cause, according to the report.1

The data through this report is consistent with the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). The CDC is set to release an update on MRSA burden data at the end of 2019 in its second Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States report.


  • Deadly Staph Infections Still Threaten the US [news release]. Centers for disease Control and Prevention website. Published March 5, 2019. Accessed March 5, 2019.
  • Staphylococcus aureus infections. Merck Manuals. Accessed March 5, 2019.

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