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Clin Microbiol Infect. 2010 May;16(5):425-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-0691.2009.02836.x. Epub 2009 Aug 18.

Body site colonization in patients with community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and other types of S. aureus skin infections.

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Division of Infectious Diseases and Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, CA 90502, USA.


Efforts to control spread of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) are often based on eradication of colonization. However, the role of nasal and non-nasal colonization in the pathogenesis of these infections remains poorly understood. Patients with acute S. aureus skin and soft tissue infection (SSTI) were prospectively enrolled. Each subject's nasal, axillary, inguinal and rectal areas were swabbed for S. aureus and epidemiological risk factors were surveyed. Among the 117 patients enrolled, there were 99 patients who had an SSTI and for whom data could be analysed. Sixty-five patients had a CA-MRSA SSTI. Among these patients, MRSA colonization in the nares, axilla, inguinal area and rectum was 25, 6, 11 and 13%, respectively, and 37% overall were MRSA colonized. Most (96%) MRSA colonization was detected using nose and inguinal screening alone. Non-nasal colonization was 25% among CA-MRSA patients, but only 6% among patients with CA-methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) or healthcare-associated MRSA or MSSA. These findings suggest that colonization patterns in CA-MRSA infection are distinct from those in non-CA-MRSA S. aureus infections. The relatively high prevalence of non-nasal colonization may play a key role in CA-MRSA transmission and acquisition of infection.

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