Everybody nose: molecular and clinical characteristics of nasal colonization during active methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream infection

BMC Infect Dis. 2022 Apr 24;22(1):400. doi: 10.1186/s12879-022-07371-w.


Background: Healthcare-associated infections pose a potentially fatal threat to patients worldwide and Staphylococcus aureus is one of the most common causes of healthcare-associated infections. S. aureus is a common commensal pathogen and a frequent cause of bacteremia, with studies demonstrating that nasal and blood isolates from single patients match more than 80% of the time. Here we report on a contemporary collection of colonizing isolates from those with methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) bloodstream infections to evaluate the diversity within hosts, and detail the clinical features associated with concomitant nasal colonization.

Methods: Swabs of the bilateral anterior nares were obtained from patients diagnosed with MRSA bacteremia. A single colony culture from the blood and an average of 6 colonies from the nares were evaluated for MRSA growth. For the nares cultures, we typed multiple isolates for staphylococcal protein A (spa) and derived the clonal complexes. Demographic and clinical data were obtained retrospectively from the electronic medical record system and analysed using univariate and multivariable regression models.

Results: Over an 11-month period, 68 patients were diagnosed with MRSA bloodstream infection, 53 were swabbed, and 37 (70%) were colonized with MRSA in the anterior nares. We performed molecular typing on 213 nasal colonies. Spa types and clonal complexes found in the blood were also detected in the nares in 95% of the cases. We also found that 11% of patients carried more than one clone of MRSA in the nares. Male sex and history of prior hospitalization within the past 90 days increased odds for MRSA colonization.

Conclusion: The molecular epidemiological landscape of colonization in the setting of invasive disease is diverse and defining the interplay between colonization and invasive disease is critical to combating invasive MRSA disease.

Keywords: Bloodstream infections; Colonization; Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus; Molecular epidemiology.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteremia* / epidemiology
  • Carrier State
  • Cross Infection* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus* / genetics
  • Nose
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Staphylococcal Infections* / epidemiology
  • Staphylococcus aureus