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Success   Active surveillance was the primary driver

Superbug infections down 30 percent at VA hospitals

Superbug infectionsRates of a deadly "superbug" called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, have dropped steadily at hospitals and long-term care health care facilities run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs over the past eight years.

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Between 2007 and 2015, rates of monthly MRSA infections rates fell 37 percent in VA intensive care units. Infections in non-ICUs fell by about 30 percent, the study found.

Even larger reductions were seen in overall health care-acquired infections, which declined 80 percent or more in both ICUs and non-ICUs, researchers reported.

"We speculate that active surveillance was the primary driver of the downward trends seen in the VA," said study lead author Dr. Martin Evans, who is with the agency.

"Understanding how and why rates of MRSA have diminished in recent years is essential for the continued progress of effective prevention programs," Evans said in a VA news release.

Staph bacteria, including MRSA, are one of the most common causes of health care-associated infections. MRSA doesn't respond to standard antibiotic treatment, and can lead to fatal pneumonia and bloodstream infections.

In 2007, the VA implemented a national initiative to address high rates of MRSA infection. This effort included dedicated MRSA prevention coordinators at each VA facility.

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