§ Mrs. Angela Knight
[holding answer 13 March 1997]: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the chief executive of the Office for National Statistics. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.
Letter from John Fox to Mr. Paul Flynn, dated 18 March 1997:The Chancellor of the Exchequer has asked the Director of the Office for National Statistics to reply to your recent question asking what is his current estimate of the future totals of MRSA deaths in England if present trends continue. In his absence, the Director has asked me to reply.Staphylococcus aureus is one of the more common causes of severe invasive bacterial disease in England and Wales. Each year the Public Health Laboratory Services' Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre receives at least 7,000 reports of blood stream infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus. Methicillin resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus account for a minority of these reports (less than 25% in 1996).There is no specific code for methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) within the international classification used for recording deaths in this country. Deaths resulting from such infections will be counted within the total number of deaths from all forms of Staphylococcus aureus infection. Statistical data on deaths from MRSA are not, therefore, available.Mention of antibiotic resistance might be made on death certificates of patients whose death is due to Staphylococcus aureus infection, and such information could be ascertained by searching the text from death certificates. However, such data are likely to be liable to bias, as the probability that methicillin resistance is mentioned on a death certificate is likely to change with the perception of the public health importance of the condition. Registration data on deaths from Staphylococcus aureus infection are not suitable, therefore, for making reliable estimates of future trends in mortality from this condition.