30 Apr 2013

Huge jump in Maori contracting MRSA, study shows

7:53 pm on 30 April 2013

A new study shows there has been a large increase in the number of Maori infected with the superbug MRSA.

The study, led by Environmental Science and Research, looked at disease and hospital admissions between 2005 and 2011.

It shows the number of maori infected by the MRSA, or meticillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, has increased by more than 500%.

In 2011 alone, 40 Maori in 100,000 were recorded as having the disease, compared to 10 Europeans in 100,000.

The study shows children are most likely to be infected.

An infectious disease specialist in Auckland, Stephen Ritchie, says the number of Maori pre-schoolers admitted to Starship Hospital with the superbug has more than doubled.

Dr Ritchie says the results are worrying and more research is needed.

He says MRSA is more common in socially deprived areas and it may therefore follow that infection rates are higher in young Maori.

Ministry of Health chief medical officer Don Mackie says it is working with other government agencies to work out how to reduce the rate of skin infections, including MRSA.

He says the ministry will also liaise with people like Mr Ritchie.