Purpose: The purpose of this study was to perform molecular characterization of Staphylococcus aureus isolates causing a variety of eye infections from two major eye care hospitals in India.
Methods: Twenty-four isolates from Aravind Eye Hospital, Madurai, India, and nine isolates from LV Prasad Eye Institute, Bhubaneswar, India, representing severe to nonsevere eye infections like microbial keratitis to lacrimal sac abscess, were characterized. Staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec typing, multilocus sequence typing, accessory gene regulator typing, staphylococcal protein A typing, and pulsed field gel electrophoresis were used, along with determination of the presence of Panton-Valentine leucocidin toxin and endotoxin gene cluster among each sequence type.
Results: The majority of eye infections, both severe and nonsevere, were caused by sequence type (ST)772, positive for the Panton-Valentine leucocidin gene, and carrying methicillin-resistant staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec type V cassette (22/33, 67%). Some of the other sequence types that caused severe eye infections were ST1 (9%), 5 (3%), 72 (6%), 88 (3%), 121 (3%), and 672 (3%). This is the first report of the presence of ST1 and 88 in India.
Conclusion: Although the number of isolates included in this study was small, most of the eye infections were caused by community-associated S. aureus where patients had no history of hospitalization or treatment in the past year. In the case of six severe infections, patients were admitted for surgeries and there is probability of hospital infection. In addition, only methicillin-resistant S. aureus isolates carrying staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec type V were detected. Epidemic methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus 15 (ST22) is a major ST found in health care as well as community settings in non-eye infections in India, but only one methicillin-sensitive S. aureus isolate belonging to ST22 was detected. Predominantly ST772, along with a few other STs, caused the 33 eye infections studied.
Keywords: CA-MRSA; PVL; ST772; agr type II; severe and nonsevere eye infections.