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The significance of nasal carriage of Staphylococcus aureus and the incidence of postoperative wound infection.

Staphylococcus aureus infections are associated with considerable morbidity and, in certain situations, mortality. The association between the nasal carriage of S. aureus and subsequent infection has been comprehensively established in a variety of clinical settings, in particular, patients undergoing haemodialysis and continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD), and in patients undergoing surgery. Postoperative wound infections are associated with a high degree of morbidity and represent an important medical issue. Until recently, eradication of S. aureus nasal carriage by various topical and systemic agents had proved unsuccessful. Mupirocin is a novel topical antibiotic with excellent antibacterial activity against staphylococci. Recent studies have demonstrated that intranasal administration of mupirocin is effective in eradicating the nasal carriage of S. aureus and in reducing the incidence of S. aureus infections in haemodialysis and CAPD patients. It has been suggested that sufficient evidence now exists to test the hypothesis that eradication of the carrier state in surgical patients preoperatively may reduce the incidence of S. aureus postoperative wound infections.

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