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J Infect Dis. 2003 Aug 15;188(4):519-30. Epub 2003 Jul 25.

Detection of Staphylococcus aureus biofilm on tampons and menses components.

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Center for Biofilm Engineering, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana 59717, USA.


Culturing has detected vaginal Staphylococcus aureus in 10%-20% of women. Because growth mode can affect virulence expression, this study examined S. aureus-biofilm occurrence in 44 paired-tampon and vaginal-wash-specimens from 18 prescreened women, using fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH). All 44 specimens were also analyzed for S. aureus by standard culturing on mannitol salt agar, which produced positive results for 15 of the 44 specimens. FISH detected S. aureus cells in all 44 specimens, and S. aureus biofilm was observed in 37 of the 44 specimens. Independent confirmation of the presence of S. aureus in specimens from all 18 women was also obtained by amplification, via polymerase chain reaction, of an S. aureus-specific nuclease gene. The results of this study demonstrate that S. aureus biofilm can form on tampons and menses components in vivo. Additionally, the prevalence of vaginal S. aureus carriage may be more prevalent than what is currently demonstrated by standard culturing techniques.

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