Waves of trouble: MRSA strain dynamics and assessment of the impact of infection control

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There has been a sustained decline in bloodstream infections due to methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) throughout the UK. The UK MRSA epidemic, which began in the 1990s, has been dominated by two epidemic MRSA (EMRSA) clones {EMRSA-15, of clonal complex (CC) 22 [sequence type (ST) 22], and EMRSA-16, of CC30 (ST36)}. It appears that both these clones followed a wave trajectory (initial expansion, relative stasis, then decline). Three recent studies have shown that ST36 has declined faster than ST22, a change that appears to have begun before the recent intensification of intensive control measures in the UK. The biological basis of infectious disease waves, including those of MRSA, is discussed, as are the implications of such waves for the assessment of the impact of infection control measures.

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