For Immediate Release: March 5, 2019, 1:00 pm EST
Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America
Contact: Tamara Moore / / 202-868-4008

Infectious Diseases Experts Urge Increased Focus on Preventing Deadly Infections 
Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America cites CDC report showing slowing progress in preventing MRSA

Arlington, VA (March 5, 2019) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data today showing that recent declines in Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) have plateaued in many U.S. hospitals. The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) said the data demonstrates the need to focus on evidence-based interventions to prevent transmission, improve patient care, and reduce the risks associated with these deadly bacteria.

"The report highlights the critical impact made by dedicated healthcare epidemiologists working with their hospital and health system partners to protect patients over the last decade.  It also shows that there is more work to be done,” said Hilary Babcock, MD, MPH, SHEA president.  “For MRSA and MSSA, no single prevention approach works in all situations. Combination, or bundled, interventions are usually the best approach. Which strategies will have the biggest impact may depend on the local context. SHEA urges expanded funding support for research into what interventions are most effective in what settings, so that infection prevention programs can continue to reduce these infections in patients across healthcare settings.”

The prevention efforts outlined in the CDC’s Vital Signs report reflect the practice recommendations outlined five years ago by SHEA as a part of Compendium of Strategies to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections in Acute Care Hospitals: 2014 Update, a series of articles outlining evidence-based strategies to help healthcare personnel effectively control and prevent the spread of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).

These recommendations include:

  • Conduct an MRSA risk assessment: Hospitals should focus on preventing opportunities for MRSA transmission and on estimating facility-specific MRSA burden and rates of transmission and infection.
  • Implement a MRSA monitoring program and track rates: the program should focus on identifying any patient with a current or prior history of MRSA and provide mechanisms for tracking hospital-onset cases of infection. Alerts should be sent from the laboratory to notify healthcare personnel of patients with MRSA.
  • Ensure compliance with hand hygiene recommendations: Healthcare personnel should perform hand hygiene in accordance with CDC or World Health Organization recommendations.
  • Ensure proper cleaning and disinfection of equipment and the environment: Because contamination can be widespread within a patient's environment, optimal cleaning and disinfection procedures should be employed.
  • Educate healthcare personnel, patients, and families about MRSA: Personnel, patients, and families should be made aware of risk and their role in prevention, transmission, and compliance with recommended precautions.
  • Implement an alert system: Hospitals should have a notification system for patients with laboratory-identified MRSA or those readmitted with MRSA to provide timely information and allow prompt initiation of control measures.

SHEA encourages investment into sound scientific research studies on how MRSA and MSSA spreads and on effective prevention efforts using novel strategies.

The report highlights the significant improvements in patient protection from Staph infections that have resulted from dedicated healthcare epidemiologists working with their hospital and healthcare system partners over the last decades.

View the full CDC Vital Signs report for more information.


The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) is a professional society representing 2,000 physicians and other healthcare professionals around the world who possess expertise and passion for healthcare epidemiology, infection prevention, and antimicrobial stewardship. The society’s work improves public health by establishing infection-prevention measures and supporting antibiotic stewardship among healthcare providers, hospitals, and health systems. This is accomplished by leading research studies, translating research into clinical practice, developing evidence-based policies, optimizing antibiotic stewardship, and advancing the field of healthcare epidemiology. SHEA and its members strive to improve patient outcomes and create a safer, healthier future for all. Visit SHEA online at, and @SHEA_Epi.