S. aureus levels prevalent in infected kids’ homes

Household contacts of children with Staphylococcus aureus skin and soft tissue infections appear to have a high rate of methicillin-resistant S. aureus colonization compared with the general population, according to a report.

Outbreaks of MRSA can occur within households, and asymptomatic MRSA colonization in a household member may be a reservoir for transmission to other household contacts, including children treated for an MRSA infection who may reacquire the organism, according to background information in the study, which appears in the June issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

“In this study evaluating S. aureus colonization in household contacts of pediatric patients with community-associated S. aureus skin and soft tissue infections and colonization, we determined that more than half of household contacts were also colonized with S. aureus,” wrote Stephanie A. Fritz, MD, MSCI, and colleagues from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

“The prevelance of MRSA colonization (21% overall) among these household members was substantially higher than previously published national rates (0.8%-1.5%) for MRSA colonization in community populations.”

The study included 183 patients with community-associated S. aureus SSTI and S. aureus colonization (in the nose, armpit and/or groin area) and their household contacts, who were defined as individuals who spent more than half of their time each week in the primary household of the patient. The patients were evaluated at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital ED and ambulatory wound center, and at nine community pediatric practices affiliated with a practice-based research network.

Of the 183 patients, 112 (61%) were colonized with MRSA, 54 (30%) with methicillin-sensitive S. aureus (MSSA) and 17 (9%) with both MRSA and MSSA.

Of 609 household contacts, 323 (53%) were colonized with S. aureus — 115 (19%) with MRSA, 195 (32%) with MSSA and 13 (2%) with MRSA and MSSA, according to study results.

Parents were more likely than other household contacts to be colonized with MRSA, the results indicated. The authors noted that the groin area was a prominent site of MRSA colonization.

“Household contacts of patients with S. aureus infections are not routinely sampled for S. aureus colonization, and failure to identify all colonized household members may facilitate persistent colonization or recurrent infections,” the authors wrote. “In addition, household environmental surfaces and shared objects represent potential reservoirs for S. aureus transmission. However, there are no data to indicate whether routine household sampling or decolonization would be practical or cost-effective.”

To read the study, visit http://bit.ly/LilqRW.

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