Hong Kong Strains of Methicillin-Resistant and Methicillin-Sensitive Staphylococcus Aureus Have Similar Virulence

J Hosp Infect. 1990 Feb;15(2):117-25. doi: 10.1016/0195-6701(90)90120-d.


While most authorities agree that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are as pathogenic as methicillin-sensitive strains (MSSA), some believe that MRSA are relatively avirulent opportunists, and that their importance has been exaggerated. We present evidence that Hong Kong strains of MRSA and MSSA are equally pathogenic: they have similar virulence in animal models; they are isolated in similar proportions from both deep and superficial clinical sites including blood; in patients with hospital-acquired bacteraemias mortality rates are similar when adjusted for clinical factors; and in both animals and patients with systemic MRSA infection, mortality rates are significantly reduced by vancomycin therapy. Efforts to control the spread of MRSA are justified, and in invasive sepsis early treatment with vancomycin may be life-saving.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methicillin / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Penicillin Resistance
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sepsis / drug therapy
  • Sepsis / etiology*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / drug therapy
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects
  • Staphylococcus aureus / pathogenicity*
  • Vancomycin / therapeutic use
  • Virulence


  • Vancomycin
  • Methicillin