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To investigate an outbreak of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) among patients using chromosomal typing of the isolates.
Comparison of epidemiological and clinical data to endonuclease restriction fragmentation analysis (RFA) of the MRSA isolates associated with an outbreak. Total DNA from the MRSA isolates was restricted with HINDIII and HAEIII for typing.
Tertiary care academic medical center.
An epidemiological investigation of an outbreak of MRSA among patients in private rooms was evaluated by routine infection control methods. The MRSA isolates from blood cultures of 7 patients and the nares of a nurse were collected during the outbreak. MRSA isolates from 23 patients not associated with the outbreak also were collected. The total DNA of the MRSA isolates were restricted with HINDIII and HAEIII and electrophoresed on 0.6% agarose gels.
MRSA from 4 of the 7 bacteremic patients and the nurse on the outbreak unit had the same endonuclease restriction pattern. The patients were linked in that they were compromised by severe psoriasis or skin ulcers, were on the unit during the same period, and had oatmeal baths in a common bathtub. Of 50 staff members screened, the nurse was the only person detected as colonized by the strain. The other 3 patients on the unit as well as the 23 patients in other locations not associated with the outbreak had MRSA isolates with different RFA patterns. The use of the bathtub was discontinued and further transmission of MRSA was stopped.
A comparison of the relatedness of MRSA by RFA demonstrated the uniqueness of the epidemiologically linked isolates and the utility of the RFA technique in the performance of routine infection control investigations.
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