Background: We previously showed that children attending an inner city pediatric emergency department were sometimes asymptomatically colonized with clindamycin-susceptible community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and borderline methicillin-resistant S. aureus (BRSA) as well. We wished to ascertain whether healthy children attending an outpatient clinic were colonized with these organisms. Therefore to estimate the prevalence of community-acquired MRSA and BRSA nasal colonization in a well child population, we cultured children attending an inner city pediatric outpatient clinic.
Study design: This was a prospective cross-sectional study conducted from January to August, 1999, at a primary care outpatient facility at the University of Chicago. The target population was 500 healthy children < or = 16 years of age who attended this facility to receive well child care.
Results: One hundred twenty-two (24.4%) children were colonized with S. aureus. Three of the 122 (2.5%) S. aureus isolates were MRSA; they came from children who lacked predisposing risk factors and were susceptible to clindamycin, gentamicin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, rifampin and ciprofloxacin. Two (1.6%) additional S. aureus isolates were BRSA; both children had predisposing risk factors for MRSA colonization. The mecA gene was present in the 3 MRSA isolates and absent in both BRSA isolates.
Conclusions: These data document that a reservoir of asymptomatic MRSA colonization exists among healthy children who lack traditional risk factors for MRSA infections.