Outbreak of community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus skin infections among healthcare workers in a cancer center
BACKGROUND: The incidence of community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) soft tissue infections is rising. However, CA-MRSA outbreaks among healthcare workers (HCWs) are rarely reported. We describe 3 clusters of CA-MRSA soft tissue infections among HCWs and the subsequent transmission to a patient. METHODS: The first cluster of boils occurred in 4 employees who worked in the ambulatory treatment clinic (area A) and 1 patient (PA1) who frequently visited area A. Three employees (EA1, EA2, and EA3) and PA1 had positive cultures. Twelve employees in 2 geographically separate diagnostic imaging areas (areas B and C) reported recent or current boils of which EB1, EB2, EB3, and EC1 had positive cultures. Molecular subtyping using pulse-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) was performed on all 8 isolates and confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laboratory. RESULTS: Relatedness of the MRSA strain was confirmed by PFGE in 7 of 8 isolates. Only EB3 was not related to the prototype CAMRSA strain. All 7 related MRSA strains contained the typical genetic organization of staphylococcal cassette chromosome (SCC)-mec type IVa plus genes encoding Panton-Valentine Leukocidin. EB3’s strain contained SCC-mec type II and was Panton-Valentine Leukocidin negative. A total of 171 questionnaires were sent. Nine of the 85 HCWs who responded reported a recent or current history of boils. Infection control conducted an education program for employees in areas A, B, and C. CONCLUSION: Early identification and control of CA-MRSA infections among HCWs is important to limit horizontal transmission to patients. Future efforts should include educational programs and guidelines for reporting and treating HCWs with MRSA infections. American Journal of Infection Control. 2011;39:112-117.
Publication Type: Journal article
Publisher: American Journal of Infection Control.