Healthcare workers with cystic fibrosis (CF) are more likely to contract methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections than CF patients not in healthcare scenarios, according to the study “Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus acquisition in healthcare workers with cystic fibrosis: a retrospective cross-sectional study,” published in BMC Pulmonary Medicine.
MRSA infection is caused by a type of bacteria that is resistant to many available antibiotics. It occurs mainly in people at hospitals and other healthcare settings.
Although CF is a life-threatening disease, the median survival of people with CF is close to 50 years, which allows for full lives and careers. Approximately 7% of adults with CF have healthcare-related professions.
Given that chronic airway infection with MRSA in patients with CF has been associated with poorer outcomes, the study researchers focused on whether CF patients working in healthcare are more likely to acquire MRSA.
The investigators examined 21 CF patients who worked in healthcare. Participants included nurses, physical therapists, radiographers, paramedics, pharmacists, and others. Data was then compared to 255 CF patients who did not work in healthcare.
Overall, the analysis revealed that CF healthcare workers had higher lung function decline than non-healthcare workers.
Additionally, the results demonstrated that a significantly higher proportion of healthcare workers (48%) acquired MRSA infections, compared to only 16% of non-healthcare workers. After adjusting for age and number of hospital admissions in the previous two years, a multivariate logistic regression demonstrated that the odds of acquiring MRSA were 8.4 times higher in healthcare than in non-healthcare workers.
According to the study: “These data suggest that occupational exposure may increase the risk of MRSA acquisition for CF patients.”
The study strongly suggests that vocational guidance should be provided to people with CF who are considering pursuing a career in the healthcare industry. Likewise, an urgent need exists for MRSA guidelines at CF patient centers, healthcare training institutions and hospitals.