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Staphylococcal decolonisation: an effective strategy for prevention of infection?

Staphylococcus aureus decolonisation--treatment to eradicate staphylococcal carriage--is often considered as a measure to prevent S aureus infection. The most common approach to decolonisation has been intranasal application of mupirocin either alone or in combination with antiseptic soaps or systemic antimicrobial agents. Some data support the use of decolonisation in surgical patients colonised with S aureus, particularly in those undergoing cardiothoracic procedures. Although this intervention has been associated with low rates of postoperative S aureus infection, whether overall rates of infection are also decreased is unclear. Patients undergoing chronic haemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis might benefit from decolonisation, although repeated courses of treatment are needed, and the effects are modest. Eradication of meticillin-resistant S aureus (MRSA) carriage has generally been difficult, and the role of decolonisation as an MRSA infection control measure is uncertain. The efficacy of decolonisation of patients with community-associated MRSA has not been established, and the routine use of decolonisation of non-surgical patients is not supported by data.

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