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In the past decade, new methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains have emerged as a predominant cause of community-associated skin and soft-tissue infections (SSTIs). Little information exists regarding trends in MRSA prevalence and molecular characteristics or regarding antimicrobial susceptibility profiles of S. aureus isolates.
We enrolled adults with acute, purulent SSTIs presenting to a US network of 12 emergency departments during August 2008. Cultures and clinical information were collected. S. aureus isolates were characterized by antimicrobial susceptibility testing, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, and toxin genes detection. The prevalence of S. aureus and MRSA and isolate genetic characteristics and susceptibilities were compared with those from a similar study conducted in August 2004.
The prevalence of MRSA was 59% among all SSTIs during both study periods; however, the prevalence by site varied less in 2008 (38%-84%), compared with 2004 (15%-74%). Pulsed-field type USA300 continued to account for almost all MRSA isolates (98%). Susceptibility to trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, clindamycin, and tetracycline among MRSA isolates remained greater than 90% in 2008. A higher proportion of MRSA infections were treated with an agent to which the infecting isolate was susceptible in vitro in 2008 (97%), compared with 2004 (57%).
Similar to 2004, MRSA remained the most common identifiable cause of purulent SSTIs among patients presenting to a network of US emergency departments in 2008. The infecting MRSA isolates continued to be predominantly pulsed-field type USA300 and susceptible to recommended non-β-lactam oral agents. Clinician prescribing practices have shifted from MRSA-inactive to MRSA-active empirical antimicrobial regimens.