MRSA Outbreak at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical CenterApr 10, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP Dozens of mothers and newborns have fallen ill with dangerous staph infections following release from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Boston.com reports that the increasing trend has sparked a state investigation in Boston that revealed significant problems in how the Beth Israel Deaconess manages infection.
Ten of the 18 mothers and 19 newborns were so sick they needed hospitalization, with two suffering from serious illness and the most recent staph bacterial infections testing as the antibiotic resistant form of the infection—Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA—said Boston.com.
In response, the state has asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help locate the cause, reported Boston.com. The CDC said that based on “research from similar outbreaks in maternity wards in other cities,” the Beth Israel Deaconess cluster is likely connected to a person, for instance “a healthcare worker, patient, or visitor” who introduced the bacteria into Beth Israel Deaconess, and that the hospital’s infection practices were insufficient to stop the spread, said Boston.com.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health ordered the hospital to provide "an immediate plan of correction" for its infection control systems by Monday and is mandating that Beth Israel undergo a hospital-wide inspection in order to continue to participate in the federal Medicare insurance program, reported Boston.com.
MRSA is carried on the skin or in the nose and can affect others, with MRSA carriers exhibiting no symptoms. MRSA can be dangerous if it reaches the bloodstream or organs, but with early and proper diagnosis—when there is a small eruption on the skin and before MRSA reaches the bloodstream—the infection is easily treated with general-purpose antibiotics, the sore is bandaged and kept clean, and the infection is cured. There is no down time and patients can resume activities with no risk of falling ill or contaminating others. Without treatment or with incorrect diagnosis and treatment, the infection spreads rapidly and can lead to respiratory failure and surgeries, attacking vital organs like the lungs and heart. Survivors are not always returned to their pre-MRSA condition, losing limbs, hearing, and full use of damaged organs, for instance.
MRSA now has two main strains, the traditional, hospital-acquired MRSA (HA-MRSA), which, said efluxMedia in an earlier report, is more dangerous due to its overwhelming antibiotic resistance and community-acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA). CA-MRSA originates from strain ST8:USA300 and, while more potent, is a bit easier to treat, often not needing antibiotic therapy. Science Daily explained earlier that MRSA are Staphylococcus aureus bacteria that are resistant to the meticillin class of antibiotics.
In 2005—the last year when such figures are available—about 94,000 Americans developed MRSA with most infected in healthcare facilities. Previously limited to hospital and nursing home patients, MRSA is now striking and killing in communities.
Boston.com reported that public health officials there initiated an investigation in December and found what they described as "serious deficiencies" in infection control. The outbreak began in November, it said.
All 37 patients who were sickened with staph come from the Boston area and their only “shared experience” was a stay at Beth Israel Deaconess, said Boston.com.