JOURNAL ARTICLE

Nasal carriers are more likely to acquire exogenous Staphylococcus aureus strains than non-carriers

H Ghasemzadeh-Moghaddam, V Neela, W van Wamel, R A Hamat, M Nor Shamsudin, N Suhaila Che Hussin, M N Aziz, M S Mohammad Haspani, A Johar, S Thevarajah, M Vos, A van Belkum
Clinical Microbiology and Infection 2015, 21 (11): 998.e1-7
26183299
We performed a prospective observational study in a clinical setting to test the hypothesis that prior colonization by a Staphylococcus aureus strain would protect, by colonization interference or other processes, against de novo colonization and, hence, possible endo-infections by newly acquired S. aureus strains. Three hundred and six patients hospitalized for >7 days were enrolled. For every patient, four nasal swabs (days 1, 3, 5, and 7) were taken, and patients were identified as carriers when a positive nasal culture for S. aureus was obtained on day 1 of hospitalization. For all patients who acquired methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) or methicillin-susceptible S. aureus via colonization and/or infection during hospitalization, strains were collected. We note that our study may suffer from false-negative cultures, local problems with infection control and hospital hygiene, or staphylococcal carriage at alternative anatomical sites. Among all patients, 22% were prior carriers of S. aureus, including 1.9% whom carried MRSA upon admission. The overall nasal staphylococcal carriage rate among dermatology patients was significantly higher than that among neurosurgery patients (n = 25 (55.5%) vs. n = 42 (16.1%), p 0.005). This conclusion held when the carriage definition included individuals who were nasal culture positive on day 1 and day 3 of hospitalization (p 0.0001). All MRSA carriers were dermatology patients. There was significantly less S. aureus acquisition among non-carriers than among carriers during hospitalization (p 0.005). The mean number of days spent in the hospital before experiencing MRSA acquisition in nasal carriers was 5.1, which was significantly lower than the score among non-carriers (22 days, p 0.012). In conclusion, we found that nasal carriage of S. aureus predisposes to rather than protects against staphylococcal acquisition in the nose, thereby refuting our null hypothesis.

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