Nearly 25% of MRSA bloodstream infections in Tennessee linked to injection drug use

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream infections rose significantly in Tennessee between 2015 and 2017, and nearly a quarter were related to injection drug use, a study published in Emerging Infectious Diseases shows.

Researchers identified MRSA bloodstream infections using the National Healthcare Safety Network, a nationwide reporting system through which acute care hospitals in Tennessee track laboratory-identified MRSA bloodstream infections from inpatient units and emergency departments.

For the study, they examined 7,646 MRSA bloodstream infection cases among patients older than 13 years.

Researchers found MRSA bloodstream infection cases increased 17.7 percent over the study period.

A MRSA bloodstream infection case was classified as related to infection drug use if the patient had visited the hospital in the six months prior or after and been given a drug use diagnosis.

Injection drug use-related infection cases represented 24.1 percent of the total bloodstream infection cases from 2015 to 2017. The prevalence of injection drug use-related cases increased from 16.1 percent in 2015 to 29.9 percent in 2017.

Researchers described the rise in MRSA bloodstream infection cases in Tennessee as "alarming" and said that increase in injection drug use-related bloodstream infection cases "suggests an association between the drug-use crisis and MRSA [bloodstream infections]."

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