For Immediate Release: July 28, 2016
Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America
Contact: Tamara Moore / / 202-868-4008
Author contact: Stephen Graff / / 215-349-5653

Household MRSA Controlled through Treatment Compliance, Patient Education

New research shows that patient education and compliance are just as important as the treatment itself in household MRSA decolonization after infection

NEW YORK (July 28, 2016) –  A new study found that following basic hygienic practices and complying with protocols for Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) decolonization reduces the time to clearance of the bacteria more quickly than a treatment regimen of antibiotic ointment and antiseptic body wash. The findings, published today in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, demonstrate the importance of educating patients in hygienic practices, in addition to encouraging adherence to decolonization protocols in the treatment of MRSA.

“MRSA is particularly dangerous because it can colonize in others without causing infection; and those in close contact, such as family members, are more likely to transmit MRSA to each other,” said Valerie Cluzet, MD, an instructor in the division of Infectious Diseases at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and lead author of the study. “As a result, household members could be an ongoing source of MRSA, leading to recurring infections.”  

The three-arm non-blinded randomized control trial was conducted at five academic medical centers in southeastern Pennsylvania among members of 223 households. It compared three different interventions: education on personal and household hygiene; education with treatment and reminders with daily phone calls and text messages; and education with treatment, but no reminders.

Researchers observed no significant difference in time to clearance of MRSA between the group that received only education and the groups of patients that received antibiotic treatment. However, secondary analyses found that the biggest impact on decolonization was compliance to treatment (>100%). When patients followed the antibiotic treatment guidance, the bacteria were cleared more quickly (23 days) compared with non-compliant households (27 days).  

Based on these findings, the researchers recommend clinicians emphasize to patients the importance of compliance with decolonization treatment for successfully clearing MRSA, and spend time educating patients with MRSA about its transmission and measures to control it. Practices such as washing linens regularly, wiping down high-touch surfaces, avoiding sharing personal hygiene items, and practicing hand hygiene can reduce household spread.

“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 Cluzet.


Valerie Cluzet, Jeffrey Gerber, Joshua Metlay, Irving Nachamkin, Theoklis Zaoutis, Meghan Davis, Kathleen Julian, Darren Linkin, Susan Coffin, David Margolis, Judd Hollander, Warren Bilker, Xiaoyan Han, Rakesh Mistry, Laurence Gavin, Pam Tolomeo, Jacqueleen Wise, Mary Wheeler, Baofeng Hu, Neil Fishman, David Royer, Ebbing Lautenbach. “The Effect of Total Household Decolonization on Clearance of Colonization with Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus.” Web (July 28, 2016).

About ICHE
Published through a partnership between the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America and Cambridge University Press, Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology provides original, peer reviewed scientific articles for anyone involved with an infection control or epidemiology program in a hospital or healthcare facility. ICHE is ranked 13th out of 158 journals in its discipline in the latest Web of Knowledge Journal Citation Reports from Thomson Reuters.

SHEA is a professional society representing physicians and other healthcare professionals around the world with expertise and passion in healthcare epidemiology, infection prevention, and antimicrobial stewardship. SHEA’s mission is to prevent and control healthcare-associated infections, improve the use of antibiotics in healthcare settings, and advance the field of healthcare epidemiology. SHEA improves patient care and healthcare worker safety in all healthcare settings through the critical contributions of healthcare epidemiology and improved antibiotic use. The society leads this specialty by promoting science and research, advocating for effective policies, providing high-quality education and training, and developing appropriate guidelines and guidance in practice. Visit SHEA online at, and @SHEA_Epi

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