Transmission of Staphylococcus aureus from maternity unit staff members to newborns disclosed through spa typing

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We observed previously that newborn infants are colonized with Staphylococcus aureus, even if their mothers do not carry S aureus. This observation indicated a cross colonization, and, thus, a risk for nosocomial infection, although the infants are roomed in with their mothers.


The S aureus colonization of infants, their parents, and staff members was measured at 3 maternity units. Possible transmission routes were determined using spa typing of S aureus isolates.


Infants had the highest S aureus carriage (45%) compared with fathers (39%), mothers (27%), and staff members (27%). In 13 out of 44 colonized infants, transmission from staff members was indicated. This transmission was more frequent than was transmission from their own parents (11 cases), and occurred even in cases when parents were colonized with S aureus of other spa types.


We confirm a high level of transmission of S aureus from staff members to infants, indicating a risk for patient safety, which necessitates continuing work with implementing scientific evidence for infection control. The spa typing is a rapid and valuable epidemiological tool, and it can be used in improving hospital hygiene control programs.

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