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Spread of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus in a Hospital after Exposure to a Health Care Worker with Chronic Sinusitis

John M. Boyce, Steven M. Opal, Gail Potter-Bynoe and Antone A. Medeiros
Clinical Infectious Diseases
Vol. 17, No. 3 (Sep., 1993), pp. 496-504
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4457329
Page Count: 9
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Spread of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus in a Hospital after Exposure to a Health Care Worker with Chronic Sinusitis
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Abstract

A dramatic increase in the incidence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus at a teaching hospital was documented to be due to three factors: a hospital-wide outbreak of 32 cases caused by an epidemic strain, an increase in the number of nosocomial cases caused by several other strains, and an increase in the number of patients admitted carrying strains acquired at other institutions. Case patients with the epidemic strain were significantly more likely than control patients to have had previous exposure to a respiratory therapist (P = .005) who had chronic sinusitis due to the epidemic strain. The plasmid DNA of isolates from the implicated respiratory therapist and affected patients yielded the same patterns on restriction endonuclease digestion. Implementation of general control measures and eradication of the respiratory therapist's sinusitis and nasal carriage terminated the epidemic. Establishing the importance of the infected health care worker by epidemiological methods led to control of the outbreak without the institution of wide-scale culture of specimens from personnel and the environment or other expensive and labor-intensive measures.

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