Emergence and resurgence of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus as a public-health threat

Lancet. 2006 Sep 2;368(9538):874-85. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(06)68853-3.


Staphylococcus aureus is a gram-positive bacterium that colonises the skin and is present in the anterior nares in about 25-30% of healthy people. Dependent on its intrinsic virulence or the ability of the host to contain its opportunistic behaviour, S aureus can cause a range of diseases in man. The bacterium readily acquires resistance against all classes of antibiotics by one of two distinct mechanisms: mutation of an existing bacterial gene or horizontal transfer of a resistance gene from another bacterium. Several mobile genetic elements carrying exogenous antibiotic resistance genes might mediate resistance acquisition. Of all the resistance traits S aureus has acquired since the introduction of antimicrobial chemotherapy in the 1930s, meticillin resistance is clinically the most important, since a single genetic element confers resistance to the most commonly prescribed class of antimicrobials--the beta-lactam antibiotics, which include penicillins, cephalosporins, and carbapenems.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Community-Acquired Infections / drug therapy
  • Community-Acquired Infections / epidemiology
  • Community-Acquired Infections / physiopathology
  • Cross Infection / drug therapy*
  • Cross Infection / epidemiology
  • Cross Infection / physiopathology
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial
  • Global Health*
  • Hand Disinfection / methods
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods*
  • Male
  • Methicillin Resistance
  • Prevalence
  • Public Health / trends*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / drug therapy*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / epidemiology
  • Staphylococcal Infections / physiopathology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects
  • Staphylococcus aureus / genetics*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / isolation & purification