JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Isolation of Staphylococcus aureus from the urinary tract: association of isolation with symptomatic urinary tract infection and subsequent staphylococcal bacteremia.

BACKGROUND: Staphylococcus aureus is frequently isolated from urine samples obtained from long-term care patients. The significance of staphylococcal bacteriuria is uncertain. We hypothesized that S. aureus is a urinary pathogen and that colonized urine could be a source of future staphylococcal infection.

METHODS: We performed a cohort study of 102 patients at a long-term care Veterans Affairs facility for whom S. aureus had been isolated from clinical urine culture. Patients were observed via urine and nasal cultures that were performed every 2 months. We determined the occurrence of (1) symptomatic urinary tract infection concurrent with isolation of S. aureus (by predetermined criteria), (2) staphylococcal bacteremia concomitant with isolation of S. aureus from urine, and (3) subsequent episodes of staphylococcal infection.

RESULTS: Of 102 patients, 82% had undergone recent urinary catheterization. Thirty-three percent of patients had symptomatic urinary tract infection at the time of initial isolation of S. aureus, and 13% were bacteremic. Eight-six percent of the initial urine isolates were methicillin-resistant S. aureus. Seventy-one patients had follow-up culture data; 58% of cultures were positive for S. aureus at > or =2 months (median duration of staphylococcal bacteriuria, 4.3 months). Sixteen patients had subsequent staphylococcal infections, occurring up to 12 months after initial isolation of S. aureus; 8 late-onset infections were bacteremic. In 5 of 8 patients, the late blood isolate was found to have matched the initial urine isolate by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis typing.

CONCLUSIONS: S. aureus is a cause of urinary tract infection among patients with urinary tract catheterization. The majority of isolates are methicillin-resistant S. aureus. S. aureus bacteriuria can lead to subsequent invasive infection. The efficacy of antistaphylococcal therapy in preventing late-onset staphylococcal infection in patients with persistent staphylococcal bacteriuria should be tested in controlled trials.

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