June 14, 2013
1 min read

Emerging staphylococcal strain found in community, hospital settings

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Health care officials must keep a watchful eye on methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus infections, as well as methicillin-resistant S. aureus, as emerging strains such as ST398 pose potential problems in health care settings, according to study data published online.

Anne-Catrin Uhlemann, MD, PhD, of the division of infectious diseases at Columbia University Medical Center, and colleagues looked at MSSA infections related to ST398 from 2010 and 2011 in a hospital in northern Manhattan and matched those with three MSSA controls each.

Anne-Catrin Uhlemann, MD, PhD 

Anne-Catrin Uhlemann

The researchers identified 64 samples that were ST398, and that some common traits existed among patients who tested positive for this strain.

“Remarkably, nearly half of the patients had been admitted to the hospital in the 6 months prior to their infection,” according to the researchers. They reported that eight of those patients “acquired the infection during their hospital stay.” Previously, the strain had mainly been encountered in community-associated infections and as a colonizer in community households.

The group further reported that patients with the ST398 strain were more likely to be Hispanic and reside in the neighborhoods adjacent to the hospital. Patients with ST398 infections were also more frequently found to have had alcohol dependence and liver cirrhosis. The study results indicate these patients with ST398 had frequent episodes of secondary invasive disease, which supports a recent survey of bloodstream infections in France.

The researchers noted some study limitations, specifically that the data were based on retrospective review, “which may have introduced a potential information bias,” and also that the findings based on their hospital may not apply to other settings.

“Our study suggests that the community MSSA such as ST398 serve as reservoirs for hospital-associated infections,” Uhlemann said.

The researchers emphasize the importance of MSSA surveillance programs “rather than efforts solely to monitor MRSA, as MSSA continues to account for the majority of S. aureus infections worldwide.”

Anne-Catrin Uhlemann, MD, PhD, can be reached au2110@columbia.edu.

Disclosure: Uhlemann reports no relevant financial disclosures.