Community-associated Staphylococcus aureus infections and nasal carriage among children: molecular microbial data and clinical characteristics


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Abstract

An increasing number of infections caused by community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) carrying the Panton–Valentine leukocidin (PVL) genes was recently identified in Greece. In the present study, 170 patients with S. aureus infections and 123 uninfected children (<15 years old) who had been tested for nasal carriage were evaluated during a 2-year period. The MecA, PVL and superantigen family genes, and MRSA clones, were investigated by molecular methods. Sites of infection and laboratory findings for patients were recorded. The results were compared and statistically analysed. Among 123 uninfected children 73 (59%) carried S. aureus, including four MRSA strains. Of these, three MRSA and three methicillin-sensitive S. aureus (MSSA) strains were PVL-positive (p <0.0001). Ninety-six patients (96/170) exhibited skin and soft-tissue infections (SSTIs), and 74 exhibited invasive infections. The incidence of staphylococcal infections increased during July to September each year. In total, 110 S. aureus isolates were PVL-positive (81 from SSTIs and 29 from invasive infections, p <0.0001). Ninety-nine out of 106 MRSA (93%) isolates from 170 patients carried the PVL genes (p <0.0001); 97 belonged to the clonal complex CC80. Leukocyte and polymorphonuclear cell counts were higher among children with MRSA infections (p <0.005). MSSA predominated among patients with invasive infections (43/74), and carried mainly genes of the superantigen family. Children <5 years of age showed a higher risk of MRSA infection. The present study demonstrates that infections due to PVL-positive CA-MRSA spread easily among children, and SSTIs can lead to invasive infections. Nasal colonization may be an additional factor contributing to the emergence of CA-MRSA.

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