Staphylococcus aureus nasal carriage in a student community: prevalence, clonal relationships, and risk factors

Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2004 Jun;25(6):485-91. doi: 10.1086/502427.


Objective: To evaluate the prevalence and risk factors of nasal Staphylococcus aureus (SA) in the community.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Participants: Four hundred fifty students were screened for nasal SA carriage during the fall of 2000, 2001, and 2002.

Methods: Students were screened by nose swabs. A self-administered questionnaire collected information on demographics and medical history. Antibiotic testing and PFGE were performed on isolates. Risk factors were determined by logistic regression analysis.

Results: Of 450 volunteers, 131 (29%) were SA carriers. Antibiotic resistance was high for azithromycin (26%) and low for ciprofloxacin (1%), tetracycline (5%), mupirocin (1%), and methicillin (2%). PFGE patterns were not associated with carriage. Age, male gender, white race, medical student, allergen injection therapy, chronic sinusitis, rheumatoid arthritis, hospitalization for 6 months or less, and use of antibiotics were associated with carrier status by univariate analysis. Stepwise multivariate logistic regression led to a best fitting model with older age (OR, 1.04; CI95, 1.005-1.079), male gender (OR, 1.50; CI95, 0.982-2.296), and chronic sinusitis (OR, 2.71; CI95, 0.897-8.195) as risk factors. Antibiotic use (< 4 weeks) (OR, 0.41; CI95, 0.152-1.095) and allergen injection therapy (OR, 0.41; CI95, 0.133-1.238) were protective. Analyses of carriers revealed candidate factors for persistent carriage to be nasal SA colonization rate and male gender. Factors for azithromycin resistance were non-medical students and antibiotic use in the past 6 months.

Conclusion: Older male volunteers suffering from chronic sinusitis and not taking antibiotics were at higher risk for carrying SA.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Carrier State / epidemiology*
  • Carrier State / microbiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Methicillin Resistance
  • Nasal Mucosa / microbiology*
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Staphylococcal Infections / epidemiology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects
  • Staphylococcus aureus / isolation & purification*
  • Students
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Universities