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Patient sharing and population genetic structure of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.


Rates of hospital-acquired infections, specifically methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), are increasingly being used as indicators for quality of hospital hygiene. There has been much effort on understanding the transmission process at the hospital level; however, interhospital population-based transmission remains poorly defined. We evaluated whether the proportion of shared patients between hospitals was correlated with genetic similarity of MRSA strains from those hospitals. Using data collected from 30 of 32 hospitals in Orange County, California, multivariate linear regression showed that for each twofold increase in the proportion of patients shared between 2 hospitals, there was a 7.7% reduction in genetic heterogeneity between the hospitals' MRSA populations (permutation P value = 0.0356). Pairs of hospitals that both served adults had more similar MRSA populations than pairs including a pediatric hospital. These findings suggest that concerted efforts among hospitals that share large numbers of patients may be synergistic to prevent MRSA transmission.

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