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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498

Date: July 2, 2012


Test results received Friday by Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) indicate that a 70-year-old New Castle County man became the third Delawarean to develop the rare vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VRSA) infection. The first and second cases were positively identified in 2010. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this brings the national case total to 13 since 2002.

VRSA is a type of antimicrobial-resistant staph bacteria. While most staph bacteria are susceptible to the antimicrobial agent vancomycin, VRSA has developed resistance and cannot be successfully treated with this drug. However, to date, other Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drugs are successful in treating the infection.

CDC findings indicate that persons developing VRSA infections are those who have several underlying health conditions such as diabetes or kidney disease or have had previous staph infections, been hospitalized, had tubes going into their bodies or recent exposure to vancomycin or other microbial agents. DPH's disease investigations conclude that all Delaware cases were being medically treated for multiple underlying health conditions. While the CDC has not documented VRSA to be communicable, as a precaution DPH investigates close contacts of these individuals and they are advised of VRSA precautions, prevention and resources.

The New Castle County man is being treated for the infection as an out-patient.

DPH continues to encourage health professionals to use appropriate infection control practices, such as frequent hand washing and masks when medically indicated, to reduce the spread of VRSA. Judicious use of antibiotics will also help to reduce the development and spread of resistant organisms such as VRSA.

For more information about VRSA, please visit

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.