Low prevalence of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus carriage at hospital admission: implications for risk-factor-based vs universal screening

Thursday, 10 January, 2013
  • J. A. Otter,
  • M. T. Herdman,
  • B. Williams,
  • O. Tosas,
  • G. L. French


BACKGROUND: There is debate over the optimal policy for detecting meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) colonization at hospital admission. The emergence of community-associated (CA)-MRSA may compromise targeted screening strategies based on risk factors for healthcare-associated (HA)-MRSA.

AIM: To determine the prevalence of MRSA colonization at admission, and the genotype and molecular epidemiology of the strains involved.

METHODS: A 12-month observational study was performed at a 1200-bed London tertiary referral hospital from 1 April 2008 to 1 March 2009. All available MRSA isolates were genotyped by spa and staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec (SCCmec) typing.

FINDINGS: The overall MRSA colonization rate was 2.0% of 28,892 admissions (range 6.6% in critical care to 0.8% in obstetrics/gynaecology/neonatology). The overall frequency of previously unknown carriage of MRSA on admission was 1.4%. Most colonizing strains were epidemic HA-MRSA-15 and -16. However, heterogeneous CA strains accounted for 18% of recovered isolates, including 37.5% of MRSA from accident and emergency and 23.1% of MRSA from surgery. The CA-MRSA strain types had significantly different epidemiological associations from the HA-MRSA strains, so risk factors used for the identification of HA-MRSA may not detect CA-MRSA reliably.

CONCLUSION: The low rate of HA-MRSA in the UK increases the relative proportion due to CA-MRSA, for which conventional risk-factor-based screening strategies may be less effective. Cost-benefit analyses of universal MRSA admission screening will need to take account of this new epidemiology.

Where can I read this paper?

Full article on The Journal of Hospital Infection.

Published: 2013 Feb;83(2):114-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2012.10.008. Epub 2013 Jan 10.