Skin infections are highly prevalent in many Australian Aboriginal communities. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of group A streptococcus (GAS) and Staphylococcus aureus in skin sores of Indigenous people living in an urban setting. We undertook a cross-sectional study of 173 children and youths attending the Wuchopperen Clinic (Cairns) for treatment of skin infections. Participants were interviewed using a structured questionnaire, and a skin lesion swab obtained. The median age was 5·3 years, with 42% identifying themselves as Torres Strait Islanders and 34% as Aboriginal. Impetigo (65%) was the most frequent diagnosis reported followed by scabies (19%); 79% of the lesions had erythema and 70% had exudate. Of 118 lesions, 114 were positive for pathogenic bacteria, with GAS isolated in 84 cases and S. aureus in 92; both these species were recovered from 63 lesions. Significant diversity of emm-types of GAS was associated with skin lesions in Indigenous patients (22 emm-types identified). Fifteen of the 92 S. aureus isolates were suggestive of being community-acquired on the basis of antimicrobial susceptibility profile and nine of these strains were co-cultured from nine lesions. These results have implications for future changes of antibiotic policies for the treatment of skin infections in this population.
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