Skip to main content
hpa logo
Topics A-Z:
Search the site:
Home News centre National Press Releases 2008 Press Releases ›  Latest figures show MRSA bloodstream infections plateau

Latest figures show MRSA bloodstream infections plateau

24 April 2008

Final quarterly figures for 2007 published by Health Protection Agency

The Health Protection Agency has today published its latest quarterly report on MRSA (meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bloodstream infections and C. difficile (Clostridium difficile) infection figures.

The latest figures on MRSA bloodstream infections show that there were 1,087 cases reported in England during the October to December quarter of 2007. This represents a 0.6% increase on the previous quarter (July to September) when 1,080 reports were received.

Dr Georgia Duckworth, Head of the Agency’s Healthcare-Associated Infection and Antimicrobial Resistance Department, said: “Over the last year cases of MRSA bloodstream infection have been steadily falling. We would obviously like to have seen the trend continued in this quarter and hope that ongoing surveillance will show that this plateau is not indicative of a levelling trend, but we need to see next quarter’s figures.

“The NHS has faced a great challenge in turning around the seemingly unstoppable rise in MRSA bloodstream infections that we saw throughout the 1990s. The substantial decreases seen in recent quarters clearly demonstrate the huge efforts made by our NHS colleagues to combat these infections. Although the current figures indicate a plateau, variations in the rate of decrease over time are not unexpected and are not necessarily a cause for alarm.”

The latest C. difficile figures, also published today, show that there were 9,872 cases reported in patients aged 65 years and over between October and December 2007. This represents an 8% reduction in reported cases in this age group from the previous quarter (July to September).

There are however some limitations to this quarter’s C. difficile figures owing to recent changes to the way in which Trusts are required to report cases of C. difficile and as these figures were collected during the transition period we cannot be confident that the apparent reduction is an accurate reflection of the current situation as the figures for some Trusts may not be complete.

Dr Duckworth continued: “Although the C. difficile figures this quarter may not be as accurate as we would like because of these changes, it was important not to disrupt the publication cycle and we strongly support the refinements to the data collection because these will make the surveillance more robust.”

Professor Peter Borriello, Director of the Agency’s Centre for Infections, said: “The reduction of health care associated infections is a big challenge throughout the world. The Agency continues to support the hard work of our NHS colleagues in combating these infections and the never-ending battle to fight all types of infection.”



Notes to Editors:

The Health Protection Agency publishes mandatory surveillance data in a quarterly format. The next set of quarterly data will be published in July 2008.  This will include annual figures for C. difficile (calendar year 2007 and financial year 2007/08) and MRSA bloodstream infections (financial year 2007/08).  


MRSA bloodstream infection figures: a summary of cases reported under mandatory surveillance in England


Number of MRSA bloodstream infection reports

April 2006 – June 2006


July 2006 – September 2006


October 2006 – December 2006


January 2007 – March 2007


April 2007 – June 2007


July – September 2007


October – December 2007



NB: Data are collected at Trust level and are not published by the Health Protection Agency for individual hospitals within a Trust.


Quarterly counts of C. difficile infections: a summary of cases reported under mandatory surveillance in England


Number of C. difficile reports in patients aged 2-64 years

Number of C. difficile reports in patients aged ≥65 years

January – March 2006



April – June 2006



July – September 2006



October – December 2006



January – March 2007



April – June 2007



July – September 2007



October – December 2007



Reports of MRSA bloodstream infections and Clostridium difficile infections for individual Trusts are available at


For further information on this press release please contact the Health Protection Agency’s Centre for Infections press office on 020 8327 6690/ 6055/ 7097/ 7098/ 6647.

Last reviewed: 21 May 2010