MRSA colonization not limited to nose: Study

Though the inside of the front of the nose is where methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is the most predominant, new research shows nearly all people colonized with MRSA have the bacteria living elsewhere on the body.

MRSA-colonized individuals are not necessarily sick, but could become sick if the bacteria becomes aggressive or could infect other people, according to Kyle Popovich, MD, the lead author of a study published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology. For this reason, hospitals have programs in place to identify patients with nasal colonization and then place them in isolation or decolonize them of MRSA.

For the study, researchers collected swab specimens from the nose and other body sites at John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County in Chicago from March 2011 to April 2012. They observed that, after the nose, the rectal and groin areas were frequent sites of colonization of community-associated MRSA. Additionally, men were more likely than women to have bacteria found in those sites.

"Our findings show that MRSA colonization is not limited to the nose," Dr. Popovich said. "This may have important implications [for] MRSA surveillance programs nationwide."

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