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J Clin Microbiol. 2004 Oct;42(10):4735-43.

Genetic diversity among community methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strains causing outpatient infections in Australia.

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Gram-Positive Bacteria Typing and Research Unit, Royal Perth Hospital, Australia.


Increasing reports of the appearance of novel nonmultiresistant methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus MRSA (MRSA) strains in the community and of the spread of hospital MRSA strains into the community are cause for public health concern. We conducted two national surveys of unique isolates of S. aureus from clinical specimens collected from nonhospitalized patients commencing in 2000 and 2002, respectively. A total of 11.7% of 2,498 isolates from 2000 and 15.4% of 2,486 isolates from 2002 were MRSA. Approximately 54% of the MRSA isolates were nonmultiresistant (resistant to less than three of nine antibiotics) in both surveys. The majority of multiresistant MRSA isolates in both surveys belonged to two strains (strains AUS-2 and AUS-3), as determined by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and resistogram typing. The 3 AUS-2 isolates and 10 of the 11 AUS-3 isolates selected for multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and staphylococcal chromosomal cassette mec (SCCmec) analysis were ST239-MRSA-III (where ST is the sequence type) and thus belonged to the same clone as the eastern Australian MRSA strain of the 1980s, which spread internationally. Four predominant clones of novel nonmultiresistant MRSA were identified by PFGE, MLST, and SCCmec analysis: ST22-MRSA-IV (strain EMRSA-15), ST1-MRSA-IV (strain WA-1), ST30-MRSA-IV (strain SWP), and ST93-MRSA-IV (strain Queensland). The last three clones are associated with community acquisition. A total of 14 STs were identified in the surveys, including six unique clones of novel nonmultiresistant MRSA, namely, STs 73, 93, 129, 75, and 80slv and a new ST. SCCmec types IV and V were present in diverse genetic backgrounds. These findings provide support for the acquisition of SCCmec by multiple lineages of S. aureus. They also confirm that both hospital and community strains of MRSA are now common in nonhospitalized patients throughout Australia.

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