Emergence of community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection in Queensland, Australia

Int J Infect Dis. 2003 Dec;7(4):259-64. doi: 10.1016/s1201-9712(03)90104-4.


Objectives: To investigate the incidence and epidemiology of non-multiresistant methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (nmMRSA) infection in south-east Queensland, Australia.

Study design: A retrospective survey was done of hospital records of all patients who had non-multiresistant MRSA isolated at Ipswich Hospital (a 250-bed general hospital, 40 km south-west of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia) between March 2000 and June 2001. Laboratory typing of these isolates was done with antibiogram, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, bacteriophage typing and coagulase gene typing.

Results: There were 44 infections caused by nmMRSA. Seventeen infections (39%) occurred in patients from the south-west Pacific Islands (predominantly Samoa, Tonga and New Zealand). Laboratory typing showed that the isolates in Pacific Islanders were Pacific Island strains, and 16/17 of these infections were community acquired. Twenty-three infections (52%) occurred in Caucasians. Eleven of the isolates from Caucasians (48%) were a new predominantly community-acquired strain that we have termed the 'R' pulsotype, nine (39%) were Pacific Island strains, and three (13%) were health care institution-associated strains. Four infections occurred in patients who were not Caucasians or Pacific Islanders. Overall, 34 of all 44 infections (77%) were community acquired.

Conclusions: Non-multiresistant MRSA infection, relatively frequently observed in Pacific Islanders in south-east Queensland, is now a risk for Caucasians as well, and is usually community acquired. Clinicians should consider taking microbiological specimens for culture and antimicrobial susceptibility testing in patients with suspected staphylococcal infections who are not responding to empirical therapy with beta-lactam antibiotics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Coagulase / chemistry
  • Coagulase / genetics
  • Community-Acquired Infections / epidemiology
  • Community-Acquired Infections / microbiology*
  • Cross Infection / epidemiology
  • Cross Infection / microbiology
  • DNA, Bacterial / chemistry
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Pulsed-Field
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Methicillin Resistance* / genetics
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Queensland / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Staphylococcal Infections / epidemiology
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / genetics
  • Staphylococcus aureus / isolation & purification*


  • Coagulase
  • DNA, Bacterial