Origins of Community Strains of Methicillin-ResistantStaphylococcus aureus

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Abstract

To characterize methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains circulating in the community, we identified predictors of isolating community MRSA and genotyped a sample of MRSA collected from a community-based, high-risk population. Computerized databases of the Community Health Network of San Francisco and the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory were searched electronically for the years 1992–1999 to identify community-onset infections caused by MRSA. Sequential analyses were performed to identify predictors of MRSA strains. The majority (58%) of infections were caused by strains traceable to the hospital or to long-term care facilities. Injection drug use was associated with infections that were not associated with health care settings. Genotypes for 20 of 35 MRSA isolates recovered from injection drug users did not match any of >600 genotypes of clinical isolates. In a nonoutbreak setting, the hospital was the main source of community MRSA; however, the presence of genetically distinct and diverse MRSA strains indicates MRSA strains now also originate from the community.

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