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October 26, 2007

Governor M. Jodi Rell today authorized the launch of a pilot program using DNA fingerprinting to rapidly identify outbreaks and clusters of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) both in the community and in hospitals across Connecticut.
“We want to be able to identify MRSA outbreaks as quickly as possible,” Governor Rell said.  “I have asked the state public health lab to begin implementing DNA fingerprinting immediately so that Connecticut hospitals and the community at large can be better positioned to manage and facilitate control measures against this potentially deadly bacterium.”  
DNA fingerprinting of MRSA uses pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) to determine the relatedness of bacterium isolated from different patients.  This assists in tracking, tracing and preventing the spread of MRSA 
“This type of genomic molecular testing, used in concert with clinical data and epidemiological surveillance, is an extremely powerful means of investigating the cause, transmission and spread of a particular MRSA infection,” said Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) Commissioner J. Robert Galvin.  
MRSA is usually contracted by direct skin-to-skin contact with someone infected or by touching surfaces contaminated with the germ, thus students on sports teams or students using lavatories or locker rooms should take extra precautions.  They are rarely fatal in previously healthy young people.  Good hygiene is the best way to avoid infection from MRSA.  
The DPH MRSA hotline remains open Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. To speak with a DPH representative regarding MRSA, please call 1-800-830-9426.  
Earlier this week, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a study that included data from Connecticut indicating that MRSA caused more than 94,000 life-threatening infections and nearly 19,000 deaths in the United States in 2005, most of them associated with health care settings. 
The study in the Oct. 17 edition of the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) found about 85 percent of all invasive MRSA infections were associated with health care settings, of which two-thirds surfaced in the community among people who were hospitalized, underwent a medical procedure or resided in a long-term care facility within the previous year. In contrast, about 15 percent of reported infections were considered to be community-associated, which means that the infection occurred in people without documented health care risk factors.