Community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections

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Community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) has been recognized for over a decade, and usually refers to MRSA identified in previously healthy individuals with no recognized MRSA risk factors. Infections range from minor skin and soft tissue infections, through to severe pneumonia and necrotizing fasciitis. This review summarizes the current data on the epidemiology and molecular features of CA-MRSA, in addition to diagnosis and therapeutic measures. We also refer to current national guidelines for the management of these infections. Areas of agreement include the important genotypic and phenotypic differences of community MRSA strains compared with hospital strains. Areas of controversy include the precise epidemiological definition of community-acquired/associated MRSA. Fortunately, true CA-MRSA can be differentiated from hospital MRSA by molecular techniques, as discussed herein. Recent interest has focused on the changing epidemiology of CA-MRSA. Worldwide, CA-MRSA is now seen outside of the initial specific population groups, and in the USA, the successful USA300 community strain is beginning to spread back into hospitals. Reasons why USA300 remains relatively uncommon in Europe are unclear. Topics timely for research include the investigation of the epidemiology of infections and evolutionary genomics.

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