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Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2010 Dec;31(12):1207-15. doi: 10.1086/657136. Epub 2010 Oct 28.

Chlorhexidine-impregnated cloths to prevent skin and soft-tissue infection in Marine recruits: a cluster-randomized, double-blind, controlled effectiveness trial.

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  • 1Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, USA. Timothy.Whitman@med.navy.mil



Community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) causes skin and soft-tissue infection (SSTI) in military recruits.


To evaluate the effectiveness of 2% chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG)-impregnated cloths in reducing rates of SSTI and S. aureus colonization among military recruits.


A cluster-randomized (by platoon), double-blind, controlled effectiveness trial.


Marine Officer Candidate School, Quantico, Virginia, 2007.


Military recruits.


Application of CHG-impregnated or control (Comfort Bath; Sage) cloths applied over entire body thrice weekly.


Recruits were monitored daily for SSTI. Baseline and serial nasal and/or axillary swabs were collected to assess S. aureus colonization.


Of 1,562 subjects enrolled, 781 (from 23 platoons) underwent CHG-impregnated cloth application and 781 (from 21 platoons) underwent control cloth application. The rate of compliance (defined as application of 50% or more of wipes) at 2 weeks was similar (CHG group, 63%; control group, 67%) and decreased over the 6-week period. The mean 6-week SSTI rate in the CHG-impregnated cloth group was 0.094, compared with 0.071 in the control group (analysis of variance model rate difference, 0.025  ± 0.016; P = .14). At baseline, 43% of subjects were colonized with methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA), and 2.1% were colonized with MRSA. The mean incidence of colonization with MSSA was 50% and 61% (P = .026) and with MRSA was 2.6% and 6.0% (P = .034) for the CHG-impregnated and control cloth groups, respectively.


CHG-impregnated cloths applied thrice weekly did not reduce rates of SSTI among recruits. S. aureus colonization rates increased in both groups but to a lesser extent in those assigned to the CHG-impregnated cloth intervention. Antecedent S. aureus colonization was not a risk factor for SSTI. Additional studies are needed to identify effective measures for preventing SSTI among military recruits.


ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT00475930.

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