As many as one in four older people living in private nursing homes across Northern Ireland are carrying the MRSA bug, a new study has warned.
Research carried out by staff at Queen's University in Belfast, which amounted to the biggest study of its kind in the whole of the UK to date, focused on 45 homes within the former Northern Board area.
They found that, out of the 1,111 residents analysed, 24 per cent were found to be carrying the harmful bacteria, though many were not showing symptoms of doing so.
Furthermore, seven per cent of nursing home staff were similarly found to be carrying MRSA, prompting calls for greater effort to be placed on screening people leaving hospitals or transferring between homes.
Dr Michael Tunney, senior lecturer in clinical pharmacy at the university, concluded: "Nursing homes have not been given the same priority as hospitals and maybe this is something that needs to be looked at in more detail to see what can be done."
Meanwhile, researchers from the US have concluded that penicillin may be the most effective means of treating children with MRSA-related infections, the Nursing Times has reported