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Int Wound J. 2009 Feb;6(1):32-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-481X.2008.00563.x.

Silver resistance in MRSA isolated from wound and nasal sources in humans and animals.

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School of Biosciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK.


Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) colonises skin, nasal passages and dermal wounds. Methods used to manage wounds infected and colonised with MRSA often include the use of topical antiseptics such as ionic silver and iodine. The objectives of this study were to determine the prevalence of silver-resistance (sil) genes in MRSA and methicillin-resistant coagulase-negative staphylococci (MR-CNS) isolated from wounds and nasal cavities of humans and animals, and also to determine the susceptibility of sil-positive and sil-negative MRSA isolates to a silver-containing Hydrofiber (SCH) wound dressing, on planktonic silE-positive and silE-negative MRSA. Polymerase chain reaction was used to determine the presence of three silver-resistance (sil) genes, silE, silP and silS in 33 MRSA and 8 methicillin-resistant staphylococci (MR-CNS). SilP and silS genes were absent in all isolates tested; however, two MRSA strains were found to contain the silE gene, together with one isolate of MR-CNS. Phenotypic resistance of the silE-positive strains and their susceptibility to the SCH dressing was evaluated using the zone of inhibition test on Mueller Hinton agar, and confocal laser microscopy using a live/dead fluorescent stain. Results confirmed that the SCH dressing was effective in killing all MRSA strains with and without the silE gene. First, this study showed that the prevalence of sil genes was low in the isolates investigated; and secondly, that the presence of a silver-resistance gene (silE) in MRSA and MR-CNS did not afford protection to the organism in the presence of a SCH wound dressing. The use of topical antiseptics in chronic wound care should be considered before the use of antibiotics that can result in their overuse and the risk of further resistance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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