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Clin Microbiol Infect. 2006 Dec;12(12):1163-7.

Direct detection of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in clinical specimens by a nucleic acid-based hybridisation assay.

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Limbach Laboratory, Department of Microbiology and Hygiene, Heidelberg, Germany.


The occurrence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is still increasing worldwide and is associated with significant morbidity, mortality and hospital costs. Screening for MRSA plays a key role in limiting further nosocomial spread of this organism. Control measures require a rapid and sensitive test for direct detection of MRSA carriage. This study evaluated an easy-to-use PCR-hybridisation assay for the direct detection of MRSA in clinical swab specimens. In total, 508 pairs of swabs from 242 patients at risk for MRSA carriage were analysed by the standard culture method and the PCR assay. One swab was used for PCR and culture, while the second was used for culture only. Of the 508 pairs tested, 37 were positive by culture and 35 were positive by PCR. Among the 471 culture-negative specimens, 465 were negative by PCR and six were PCR-positive. The PCR assay had a sensitivity of 94.59%, a specificity of 98.73%, a positive predictive value of 85.37%, and a negative predictive value of 99.57%. The PCR-hybridisation assay enabled reliable detection of MRSA carriage in c. 4 h, thereby allowing its effective use in an MRSA control strategy.

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