CA to Require Health Departments to Report Staph Infections

LOS ANGELES (AP) - California doctors and health care workerswill be required to report cases of drug-resistant staph infections under a new state rule announced Thursday.

Officials from the state Department of Public Health hope that mandatory reporting will allow them to learn who's at greatest risk and develop strategies to control the germ.

An estimated 90,000 people in the United States fall ill every year from the drug-resistant strain, known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

MRSA thrives in health care settings, but in recent years has spread to schools, prisons and community settings. The germ is spread mostly through personal contact and it's largely preventable by commonsense hygiene, according to health officials.

The new rule requires health care providers in California to report severe cases of staph infections including MRSA that result in hospitalization or death to local health officials. MRSA joins a list of reportable diseases that includes anthrax and hepatitis.

About 18 states require some form of MRSA reporting.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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