In September 2004, an outbreak of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) skin and soft tissue infections (SSTI) was reported among members of a religious community. We conducted a retrospective cohort study on all 175 community members; performed a nasal carriage survey, and environmental swab testing. We identified 24 MRSA cases (attack rate 14%). In multivariate analysis, sauna use [odds ratio (OR) 19·1, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2·7–206·1] and antimicrobial use within 12 months before infection (OR 11·7, 95% CI 2·9–47·6) were risk factors for infection. MRSA nasal carriage rate was 0·6% (1/174). Nine of 10 clinical isolates and an isolate from an administrative office within the community had the pulsed-field gel electrophoresis type USA300. Targeted hygiene improvement, wound care, and environmental cleaning were implemented. We describe the first reported outbreak of MRSA SSTI in a religious community. Adherence to appropriate personal and environmental hygiene might be critical factors in controlling transmission.
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