Randomized controlled trial of chlorhexidine gluconate for washing, intranasal mupirocin, and rifampin and doxycycline versus no treatment for the eradication of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus colonization

Clin Infect Dis. 2007 Jan 15;44(2):178-85. doi: 10.1086/510392. Epub 2006 Dec 14.


Background: Eradication of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) carriage may reduce the risk of MRSA infection and prevent transmission of the organism to other patients.

Methods: To determine the efficacy of decolonization therapy, patients colonized with MRSA were randomized (3:1 allocation) to receive treatment (2% chlorhexidine gluconate washes and 2% mupirocin ointment intranasally, with oral rifampin and doxycycline for 7 days), or no treatment. Follow-up samples for MRSA culture were obtained from the nares, perineum, skin lesions, and catheter exit sites monthly for up to 8 months. The primary outcome measure was detection of MRSA at 3 months of follow-up. Univariate and multivariable analyses were performed to identify variables associated with treatment failure.

Results: Of 146 patients enrolled in the study, 112 patients (87 treated; 25 not treated) were followed up for at least 3 months. At 3 months of follow-up, 64 (74%) of those treated had culture results negative for MRSA, compared with 8 (32%) of those not treated (P=.0001). This difference remained significant at 8 months of follow-up, at which time, 54% of those treated had culture results negative for MRSA (chi2=64.4; P<.0001, by log-rank test). The results of the multivariable analysis indicated that having a mupirocin-resistant isolate at baseline was associated with treatment failure (relative risk, 9.4; 95% confidence interval, 2.8-31.9; P=.0003), whereas decolonization therapy was protective (relative risk, 0.1; 95% confidence interval, 0.04-0.4; P=.0002). Mupirocin resistance emerged in only 5% of follow-up isolates.

Conclusions: Treatment with topical mupirocin, chlorhexidine gluconate washes, oral rifampin, and doxycycline for 7 days was safe and effective in eradicating MRSA colonization in hospitalized patients for at least 3 months.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intranasal
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carrier State
  • Chlorhexidine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Chlorhexidine / therapeutic use
  • Doxycycline / administration & dosage*
  • Doxycycline / therapeutic use
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Hand Disinfection / standards
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methicillin Resistance
  • Middle Aged
  • Mupirocin / administration & dosage*
  • Rifampin / administration & dosage*
  • Rifampin / therapeutic use
  • Staphylococcal Infections / drug therapy*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects*


  • Mupirocin
  • chlorhexidine gluconate
  • Doxycycline
  • Chlorhexidine
  • Rifampin