Surveillance and epidemiology of MRSA bacteraemia in the UK

Alan Johnson*, Andrew Pearson, Georgia Duckworth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

186 Citations (Scopus)


Surveillance of bacteraemia caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in the UK has involved collection of data from hospital microbiology laboratories via several mechanisms, including a voluntary reporting scheme that has been operational in England and Wales since 1989 and mandatory reporting schemes that have been running independently in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland since 2001. In addition, surveillance schemes involving panels of participating sentinel laboratories that submit isolates for centralized susceptibility testing, such as the Bacteraemia Resistance Surveillance Programme run by the BSAC, have also been established. Each of these data sources have particular advantages, but they also have their individual limitations, with the result that they each give an incomplete picture if considered in isolation. However, by pooling the findings from these different but complementary surveillance programmes, a much more comprehensive and credible picture of the problem posed by MRSA is produced. These schemes have shown both a dramatic rise in the total numbers of cases of S. aureus bacteraemia reported annually and an increase in the proportion of such cases that involve MRSA (from 2% in 1990 to >40% in the early 2000s), although the most recent data indicate a slight reversal of these trends. Characterization of isolates of MRSA shows a marked temporal relationship between the rise in MRSA bacteraemias and the emergence and spread of two strains of epidemic MRSA, EMRSA-15 and EMRSA-16. Surveillance and control of MRSA infection continue to be high profile and further developments to the mandatory surveillance system in England are likely in the near future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)455-462
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2005


  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Nosocomial infections
  • Staphylococcus aureus


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