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Clin Microbiol Infect. 2012 Feb;18(2):E31-3. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-0691.2011.03724.x. Epub 2011 Dec 22.

Which anatomical sites should be sampled for screening of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus carriage by culture or by rapid PCR test?

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  • 1Service of Hospital Preventive Medicine, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois and University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.


The nose is the anatomical site usually recommended for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) screening. Other sites are also recommended, but are more controversial. We showed that the sensitivities of MRSA detection from nasal swabs alone were 48% and 62% by culture or by rapid PCR test, respectively. These percentages increased to 79% and 92% with the addition of groin swabs, and to 96% and 99% with the addition of groin and throat swabs. In conclusion, neither by culture nor by rapid PCR test is nose sampling alone sufficient for MRSA detection. Additional anatomical sites should include at least the groin and throat.

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