Over a five year period beginning in 1981, during which control measures were applied intermittently, the incidence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) isolates increased steadily within a twin site general hospital. A retrospective chart review of 154 patients identified in 1984-1985 showed that the MRSA 'definitely' contributed to three deaths (2%) and 'probably' contributed to a further 15 (10%). The prolonged median duration of hospital admission (22 days) before first isolation of MRSA, together with the clustering of cases in time on certain wards, suggested that most, if not all, affected patients acquired the MRSA in hospital. As the virulence of MRSA in our outbreak appeared the same as that reported from teaching hospitals, MRSA control measures need to be comprehensively applied in general hospitals.
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