Molecular Epidemiologic Study of a Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus Outbreak at a Newborn Nursery and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

  • Kang, Hyun Mi (Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea) ;
  • Park, Ki Cheol (Clinical Research Institute, Daejeon St. Mary's Hospital, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea) ;
  • Lee, Kyung-Yil (Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea) ;
  • Park, Joonhong (Department of Laboratory Medicine, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea) ;
  • Park, Sun Hee (Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea) ;
  • Lee, Dong-Gun (Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea) ;
  • Kim, Jong-Hyun (Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea)
  • Received : 2019.07.03
  • Accepted : 2019.11.10
  • Published : 2019.12.25


Purpose: This study aimed to investigate the molecular epidemiology of a methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) outbreak at a newborn nursery and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Methods: During the outbreak, from August to September 2017, MRSA isolates collected from neonates and medical staff underwent genotyping and screened for virulence factors. Antibiotic susceptibilities were tested. Results: During the study period, 41 neonates were admitted at the nursery (n=27) and NICU (n=14). Of these, 7 had MRSA infections (skin infection [n=6] and sepsis [n=1]) and 4 were colonized with MRSA. Associated medical staff (n=32) were screened; three were nasal MRSA carriers. Staphylococcal chromosomal cassette mec (SCCmec) type II, sequence type (ST) 89, spa type t375 was found to be the skin infection outbreak causing strain, with multi-drug resistance including low-level mupirocin resistance. SCCmec type IVa, ST 72, and a novel spa type designated t17879, was the cause of MRSA sepsis. Many different types of MRSA were colonized on the neonates; however, SCCmec type IVa, ST 72, spa type t664 was colonized in both neonates and a NICU nurse. All MRSA isolates from colonized infants were positive for the Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) toxin gene. Conclusions: The strain causing an outbreak of skin infections had multi-drug resistance. Also, MRSA colonized in the neonates were found to carry the PVL toxin gene. Because different strains are present during an outbreak, molecular epidemiologic studies are important to identify the outbreak strain and colonized strains which aid in effective control and prevention of future MRSA outbreaks.


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