Prevalence and risk factors for MRSA nasal colonization among persons experiencing homelessness in Boston, MA

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Homeless individuals face an elevated risk of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection. Identifying the prevalence and risk factors for MRSA nasal colonization may reduce infection risk. A cross-sectional study was conducted at a health clinic for homeless persons in Boston, MA, USA (n=194). In-person interviews and nasal swab specimens were collected. MRSA isolates were genotyped using pulse-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and assessed for antibiotic susceptibility. The prevalence of MRSA nasal colonization was 8.3%. Seventy-five percent of isolates reflected clonal similarity to USA300. USA100 (18.8%) and USA500 (6.3%) were also recovered. Resistance to erythromycin (81.3%), levofloxacin (31.3%) and clindamycin (23.1%) was identified. Recent inpatient status, endocarditis, haemodialysis, heavy drinking, not showering daily and transience were positively associated with MRSA nasal colonization. Carriage of community-acquired MRSA strains predominated in this population, although nosocomial strains co-circulate. Attention to behavioural and hygiene-related risk factors, not typically included in MRSA prevention efforts, may reduce risk.

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