Nose, throat and finger carriage of Staphylococcus aureus was investigated in a series of random samples from a normal European population.
No evidence for a seasonal trend in carriage was found but the intersample variation between successive random samples was obtained. The mean nasal carrier rate was 29 % with a standard deviation of 7 %.
No association was found between nasal or throat carriage of staphylococci and stay in hospital or antibiotic therapy but respondents with penicillin-resistant staphylococci in the nose had skin infections more frequently than those with penicillin-sensitive strains.
Evidence was obtained for a family, perhaps genetic, ‘predisposition’ to carry staphylococci in the nose.