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Clin Infect Dis. 2005 Apr 1;40(7):976-81. Epub 2005 Mar 4.

Identification of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus carriage in less than 1 hour during a hospital surveillance program.

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Centre de Recherche en Infectiologie, Universite Laval, Sainte-Foy, Canada.



Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has spread worldwide and is responsible for significant morbidity, mortality, and health care costs. Control strategies to limit the emergence and spread of this organism rely on rapid and sensitive tests for detection of MRSA carriage. However, the standard surveillance culture method for detecting MRSA is labor intensive and time-consuming (2-3 days per procedure). There is thus a need for a rapid and accurate method to screen for MRSA carriage.


We recently developed an easy-to-use real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay suitable for specific detection of MRSA in nasal specimens in <1 h. We studied the efficacy of our new PCR assay in routine screening for nasal MRSA carriage during a hospital surveillance program. A total of 331 nasal specimens obtained from 162 patients at risk for colonization were tested by both the standard mannitol agar culture method and our PCR assay.


The PCR assay detected MRSA in all 81 samples that were culture positive for MRSA. The PCR assay detected 4 additional MRSA-positive specimens, for a specificity of 98.4%, a positive predictive value of 95.3%, and a sensitivity and negative predictive value of 100%.


This novel PCR assay allows reliable identification of MRSA carriers in <1 h. This test should facilitate the efficacy of MRSA surveillance programs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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