New quick test for MRSA delivers results in just 5 hours
The methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is one of the most common causes of life threatening infections among hospital patients. What makes the bacterium that dangerous is the fact, that due to unspecific symptoms and long lasting testing procedures its detection takes too long. A new test that delivers results in just five hours now offers the possibility of a MRSA screening for all patients with the result of an early treatment and containment of the bacterium.
The bacterium is resistant to almost all known antibiotics and is contagious. Around 50,000 hospital patients a year are affected in Germany alone and around 1,500 die due to the aftereffects of the infection. An early diagnosis of the bacterium in hospital patients using efficient quick tests can help cut the number of occurrences of MRSA infections. 3M has now developed the first culture based MRSA quick test capable of reliably confirming MRSA in just a few hours – rather than within days, as was previously the case.
The MRSA quick test uses nasal swabs to establish within five hours whether or not the patient is infected with MRSA. The new test helps clinical staff identify high risk patients more quickly and instigate the necessary quarantine, hygiene and treatment measures. Until now, alternatives to this quick test were traditional culture techniques – in which hospitals had to wait at least 48 hours for the results – or costly molecular genetic detection procedures.
“The introduction of this new test is an important development in the fight against MRSA,” explains Professor Dr. Jan Kluytmans, medicinal microbiologist at Amphia Hospital Breda/Oosterhout and VUmc, Medical University, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. “One of the most important measures we have to delay or even stop the spreading of MRSA involves identifying those patients carrying methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus. In this way, we can instigate the necessary steps as soon as possible. The test provides us with the necessary speed at a relatively low cost which – given the cost capping in the healthcare sector – is becoming increasingly important.”
Ideally, all patient admitted to hospital should be examined to determine whether they are nasal carriers of MRSA. The quick identification of infected patients enables doctors to proactively manage carriers, especially high risk patients awaiting an invasive operation. Delayed results mean that positive carriers remain a potential source of cross infections for other patients. Patients without a nasal MRSA infection do not need to be quarantined unnecessarily.
Studies show that an effective MRSA screening of heightened risk patients helps keep infection rates low and saves costs. On average, MRSA cases need 10-15 more days of in-patient treatment which can cause additional costs of up to €10,000 per sufferer. A diagnosis faster than conventional laboratory procedures could help cut the number of MRSA infections significantly.