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Flu could influence MRSA rates

Health experts have warned that a second wave of swine flu would see a rise in hospital admissions which in turn could lead to an increase in MRSA cases.

According to Department of Health research, when hospital bed occupancy rate exceeds 90%, MRSA instances can be as prevalent as 40% above the average.

The MRSA Working Group, with National Concern for Healthcare Infection and the Patients Association, has written to all NHS hospital staff, urging them to review their policy for the early discharge of MRSA patients and prevent a rise in the killer superbug.

They also asked hospitals not to let increasing pressure on staff and rising bed occupancy rates during winter to spoil the good work done so far to slash MRSA rates.

Dr Matthew Dryden, consultant microbiologist at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital and General Secretary of the British Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, said: "The NHS has been working really hard to plan for swine flu and ensure there will be enough hospital beds available for patients who need to be admitted.

He added that MRSA infection rates can be kept under check by early discharge of MRSA patients with due "outpatient and home care and good antibiotic stewardship".

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Department of Health