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The rate of golden staph infection in public hospitals remains stable, with all states and territories well below the required national threshold, a new Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report has confirmed.

While the overall number of cases was up in 2018-19 (1,573 cases) compared to the year prior (1,491 cases), in reality those overall totals only amounted to 0.75 cases per 10,000 patient days, a figure well below the targeted national limit (two cases for every 10,000 patient days).

The figures were similarly strong across states and territories, with the lowest reported rate recorded in the Northern Territory (0.47) and the highest recorded rate found in Western Australia (0.85).
The report, Bloodstream infections associated with hospital care 2018–19, also had positive news in terms of treatment, with 82% of Golden Staph infections – also known as staphylococcus aureus bloodstream (SAB) infections – successfully treated with antibiotics, a 4% point increase compared to numbers from five years ago.
Furthermore, only 277 of the year’s recorded cases were antibiotic resistant, down by 54 from the corresponding number (331) recorded in 2014-15.
The report stated more than half of the SAB infection cases were found to have occurred in major hospital and that the condition could be associated with hospital care, especially related to surgical and invasive procedures. The AIHW however also noted that some patients contracted the infection outside of a hospital environment.

Nevertheless, spokesperson for the AIHW, Dr Adrian Webster, said while rates of infection were stable, healthcare workers and patients, particularly those in major, large and children’s hospitals, would benefit from pre-existing initiatives designed to reduce the risk of infection transmission.
“In hospitals, staphylococcus aureus bacteria are most commonly transmitted via the hands of healthcare workers,” Dr Webster said.

“There are many initiatives in place to reduce the occurrence of SAB infections and other hospital acquired infections, including the National Hand Hygiene Initiative, which aims to educate and promote standardised hand hygiene practice in all Australian hospitals.”