, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 291–297 | Cite as

Changing epidemiology of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, 2002–2009

Clinical and Epidemiological Study



The epidemiology of infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is changing. Temporal trends and differences between healthcare settings must be described in order to better predict future risk factors associated with this dangerous bacterial infection.


A national MRSA-infected cohort was identified from 2002 to 2009 in the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System of the United States: hospital (HOS), long-term care (LTC), and outpatient (OPT). We analyzed within-setting time trends using generalized linear mixed models and between-setting differences with χ2 and Wilcoxon rank-sum tests.


The incidence of S. aureus, methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA), and MRSA infections increased significantly over time in all three settings based on modeled annual percentage changes (P < 0.001). MRSA incidence rates rose by 14, 10, and 37% per year in the HOS, LTC, and OPT settings, respectively. Among 56,345 MRSA-infected patients, the comorbidity burden was highest among LTC inpatients (n = 4,427) and lowest among outpatients (n = 7,250), with an average absolute difference in specific comorbidities of +2 and −7%, respectively, compared to HOS inpatients (n = 44,668). Over time, there was a significant (P ≤ 0.02) decrease in previous inpatient admissions and surgeries (all settings); diabetes with complications and surgical site infections (HOS, OPT); and median length of stay and inpatient mortality (HOS, LTC). Alternatively, obesity, chronic renal disease, and depression were more common between 2002 and 2009 (P ≤ 0.02).


Over the past 8 years, we observed significant changes in the epidemiology of MRSA infections, including decreases in traditional MRSA risk factors, improvements in clinical outcomes, and increases in other patient characteristics that may affect risk.


Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus Epidemiology Veterans Affairs Healthcare System Temporal trends 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Infectious Diseases Research ProgramVeterans Affairs Medical Center (151)ProvidenceUSA
  2. 2.Department of Pharmacy PracticeUniversity of Rhode IslandKingstonUSA
  3. 3.Division of Infectious DiseasesAlpert Medical School of Brown UniversityProvidenceUSA

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