Hospital food can carry MRSA, VRE

A new study, published in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, examined the role of hospital food in transmission of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant enterococci.

Researchers conducted a prospective cohort study from May 2011 to July 2012 at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. For the study, 149 patients collected 910 samples from their meals in sterile specimen cups. They handed over the samples to researchers.

Additionally, researchers collected data from patient interviews, chart reviews and medical informatics queries, including MRSA and VRE clinical laboratory results from one year before study enrollment to one year after enrollment.

The study shows one or more food specimens submitted by 17 patients were positive for MRSA; similarly one or more food specimens from 17 patients were positive for VRE. MRSA was cultured from 29 specimens (3.2 percent) in all, and VRE was cultured from 22 specimens (2.4 percent). More than one positive specimen was collected from some patients.

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