Is household decolonization of MRSA effective?

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is notoriously difficult to get rid of because people can carry MRSA without becoming infected and then pass it on to others. One strategy to clear MRSA is decolonization of close contacts. A new study in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology showed that household decolonization is only effective if patients are compliant.

The three-arm randomized trial was conducted at five hospitals in Pennsylvania with members of 223 households. Participants were split into three groups: those who received only education on personal and household hygiene; those who received education with treatment and reminders with daily phone calls and texts; and those who received education with treatment but no reminders.

Researchers found no significant difference in time to clearance of MRSA colonization in the education-only and the two decolonization groups. However, they found compliance with the steps was associated with decreased time to clearance.

They then recommended clinicians work with patients to emphasize the importance of compliance with the treatment to successfully clearing MRSA.

"We believe that our study leads to other crucial questions that deserve attention, such as the role of other parts of the household, including pets and the environment, in MRSA transmission, the importance of compliance with decolonization protocols and the optimal timing, duration and frequency of decolonization," said Valerie Cluzet, MD, the study's lead author.

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