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The national rate of golden staph infections in public hospitals remains under the benchmark, according to latest data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Golden staph (Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria are commonly found on the skin and in the nose. However, a serious infection may occur if these bacteria enter a person’s bloodstream. The infections can be associated with hospital care and are often related to the use of indwelling medical devices, or surgery.

The AIHW report, Bloodstream infections associated with hospital care 2019-20, reveals that there were 1,428 cases of golden staph reported in Australian public hospitals in 2019-20, down from 1,573 cases in 2018-19.

Over the past five years, the rate of golden staph infection has fluctuated around 0.7 cases per 10,000 days of patient care. In the latest report, rates differed among stated and territories, but all jurisdictions fell below the national benchmark of 2.0 cases per 10,000 days of patient care.

“These rates ranged from 0.81 per 10,000 days of patient care in Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory to 0.34 in the Northern Territory,” AIHW spokesperson Dr Heather Swanston said.

The report found rates were higher than the national average in major, large and children’s hospitals. These types of hospitals generally provide a broad range of services, including a number of specialised and complex services, and are more likely to treat patients who may be at risk of getting golden staph.

“More than 8 in 10 (83%) cases were able to be treated with commonly used antibiotics,” Dr Swanston said.

“Over the 5 years to 2019-20, the proportion of cases resistant to common antibiotics decreased from 19% to 17%.”