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Am J Med. 1991 Sep 16;91(3B):238S-244S.

Reemergence of epidemic methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in a general hospital associated with changing staphylococcal strains.

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Infection Control Department, University of Cincinnati Hospital, Ohio.


An epidemic of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections involving 323 patients occurred at the University of Cincinnati Hospital from 1977 to 1981. Subsequently, endemic MRSA persisted in the hospital for 6 years, until 1987, when a new epidemic began with 223 patients becoming infected over 3 years. Between the two epidemics, there was a major change in the MRSA recovered from infected patients, as demonstrated by three epidemiologic markers. Antibiograms showed that the tetracycline-resistant MRSA involved in the first epidemic was replaced by tetracycline-susceptible MRSA in the second epidemic; bacteriophage typing indicated that the original epidemic strain, D11/83A/85, had been replaced by new strains, many of which were susceptible to phage 54; and restriction endonuclease analysis of plasmid DNA confirmed that a single strain was involved in the first epidemic and that multiple strains were present in the second epidemic. The epidemiology of MRSA infections in the hospital changed with the change in staphylococcal strains. The first epidemic was hospital based with most infections occurring in surgical patients, and the burn unit was the major reservoir. In contrast, 28% of the patients in the second epidemic had community-acquired infections, and nursing home patients were an important source of these infections. Also, 29% of the hospital-acquired infections in this epidemic occurred in nonsurgical patients. This time the burn unit was not a reservoir of infection, but other intensive care units were. The increased diversity of strains of MRSA in the second epidemic might be related to increased transmission in the community and more widespread transmission in the hospital.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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