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GIS at work in epidemiology

MRSA is a potentially lethal bug which is difficult to combat because it has developed resistance to some antibiotics. Dutch researchers have found that MRSA is mainly spread by patients moving between hospitals and, in an effort to break this transmission cycle, have called for more screening of people who are repeatedly admitted to different hospitals.

These recommendations were based on a large study of the geographical location of different strains of MRSA across 26 European countries.

The original large-scale study, which analysed samples from 450 hospitals across Europe, was published in the journal, PloS Medicine. The goal of the work was to find out more about the distribution of the different strains in order to learn more about how the infection spreads. Based on the geographical analysis, Hajo Grundmann, from the University Medical Centre in Groningen in the Netherlands, concluded that the distribution of MRSA suggested it is transmitted by patients who frequent different hospitals, rather than being spread in the community. Doctors can use an interactive map developed in the study, which is also available to the public, and which offers information on MRSA strains in different locations.

According to the Health Protection Agency, it was already well known that MRSA infections usually occurred in hospitals, and that nursing and residential homes have had problems with MRSA colonisation. A spokesperson for the HPA said a substantial screening programme was already in place and was due to be extended.

Source: based on an article appearing on the BBC News online web site.

Geo: International