Press Release

September 22 , 2010


World MRSA Day – How Illinois Is Fighting Antibiotic Resistant Infections

IDPH reporting requirements help track methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections in hospitals.  

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois Department of Public Health will join health leaders around the world in recognizing World MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) Day on Friday, October 1, 2010. The 2010 global theme is, “The MRSA Epidemic – A Call to Action,” and is an opportunity to provide much needed MRSA prevention, education and awareness information to the public.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is a bacteria (often called “staph”) that is resistant to antibiotics commonly used to treat staph infections, such as methicillin or penicillin. Previously, infections caused by MRSA were associated with ill people receiving care in hospitals or long-term care facilities. However, MRSA has also emerged as a common cause of skin infections among healthy people in the community who have not had prior contact with health care settings. In the community, most MRSA infections are skin infections. More severe or potentially life-threatening MRSA infections occur most frequently among patients in health care settings. MRSA in health care settings can cause serious and potentially life-threatening infections.

The main mode of MRSA transmission is from person-to-person by direct skin-to-skin contact or contact with shared items or surfaces that have come into contact with another person’s MRSA infection. MRSA transmission can be prevented by cleaning your hands, keeping wounds covered, not sharing personal items such as towels or washcloths, and maintaining a clean environment. In health care settings, MRSA can be carried from one patient to another via the hands of health care workers. Frequent hand washing with soap and water, or use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, are the best ways to prevent the spread of MRSA, both in health care settings and in the community.

In August 2007, the State of Illinois passed legislation requiring health care facilities to perform annual facility-wide infection control risk assessments; develop infection control policies; enforce hand hygiene and contact precaution requirements; and incorporate any updated prevention and control recommendations issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Illinois Department of Public Health has published reports on MRSA infections and trends in hospitals, and will be adding hospital specific MRSA data to the Illinois Hospital Report Card and Consumer Guide to Health Care in the future

Consistent with national data, analysis of hospital discharge data indicates the burden of MRSA infections in Illinois hospitals increased significantly from 2002 through 2007. However, researchers at the CDC recently reported a nationwide drop in serious health care MRSA infections. Similarly, the most recent Illinois hospital data available shows a decline in MRSA infections. Increased awareness and prevention measures can help lower these numbers even further.

For more information on MRSA, log onto

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Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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