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In the past 20 to 30 years, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains have been present in hospitals and have become a major cause of hospital-acquired infection. Methicillin resistance rates of S. aureus vary considerably between countries, with a high prevalence in the United States, and southern Europe (>20%) and a low prevalence in northern Europe (< or =5%). Community-acquired MRSA emerged worldwide in the late 1990s. There has been great confusion in the literature between healthcare-associated MRSA infections occurring in the community in patients who are at risk of acquiring hospital MRSA (such as those with past history of hospital admission, immunocompromised status, etc.), and true CA-MRSA infections due to strains that are present in the community only.


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