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Emergence of Community-Associated Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Strains as a Cause of Healthcare-Associated Bloodstream Infections in Korea

  • Sun Hee Park (a1), Chulmin Park (a2), Jin-Hong Yoo (a1), Su-Mi Choi (a1), Jung-Hyun Choi (a1), Hyun-Ho Shin (a2), Dong-Gun Lee (a1), Seungok Lee (a3), JaYoung Kim (a3), So Eun Choi (a4), Young-Mi Kwon (a4) and Wan-Shik Shin (a1)...



The prevalence of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) strains causing bloodstream infection (BSI) has not been studied in Korea.


We sought to determine the prevalence of CA-MRSA strains among isolates recovered from patients with MRSA BSIs and to explore epidemiological changes in Korea. We also sought to evaluate clinical characteristics relevant to the development of healthcare-associated BSIs.


We prospectively collected consecutive MRSA isolates from patients with BSI at 4 hospitals from July 1 through November 30, 2007, and we also included MRSA isolates recovered from culture of blood samples collected during a previous year (October 1, 2004 through September 30, 2005) at a different hospital. Molecular typing studies were performed, including pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), multilocus sequence typing, Staphylococcus protein A (spa) typing, and staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec (SCCmec) typing. We compared the clinical characteristics and outcomes of patients with healthcare-associated BSI due to CA-MRSA strains with those of patients with healthcare-associated BSI due to healthcare-associated MRSA (HA-MRSA) strains.


There were 76 cases of MRSA BSI, of which 4 (5.3%) were community-associated and 72 (94.7%) were healthcare-associated. Among the 72 HA-MRSA BSIs, 18 (25%) were community onset, and 54 (75%) were hospital onset. PFGE type D-ST72–spa B-SCCmec type IVA MRSA, the predominant genotype of CA-MRSA in Korea, accounted for 19 (25%) of all 76 MRSA BSIs, including 17 (23.6%) of 72 HA-MRSA BSIs and 11 (20.8%) of 53 hospital-onset HA-MRSA BSIs. Patients with healthcare-associated BSIs due to CA-MRSA strains carrying SCCmec type IVA tended to have fewer healthcare-associated risk factors, compared with patients with healthcare-associated BSIs due to HA-MRSA strains carrying other SCCmec types. The presence of a central venous catheter or other invasive device was the only independent factor differentiating patients infected with hospital-associated genotype strains from patients infected with other strains. Clinical outcomes were similar between both groups.


CA-MRSA strains are emerging as a major cause of BSI in healthcare settings in Korea. This changing epidemiology of MRSA poses a challenge to public health and infection control in hospital settings.


Corresponding author

Department of Internal Medicine, St. Mary's Hospital, 62, Yoido-Dong, Youngdeungpo-Gu, Seoul, Korea150-713 (


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