Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Topical Therapy for Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Colonization Impact on Infection Risk

  • Ari Robicsek (a1) (a2), Jennifer L. Beaumont (a3), Richard B. Thomson (a4) (a5), Geetha Govindarajan (a6) and Lance R. Peterson (a4) (a5)...

We evaluated the usefulness of topical decolonization therapy for reducing the risk of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection among MRSA-colonized inpatients.


Retrospective cohort study.

Setting and Intervention.

Three hospitals with universal surveillance for MRSA; at their physician's discretion, colonized patients could be treated with a 5-day course of nasal mupirocin calcium 2%, twice daily, plus Chlorhexidine gluconate 4% every second day.

Patients and Methods.

MRSA carriers were later retested for colonization (407 subjects; study 1) or followed up for development of MRSA infection (933 subjects; study 2). Multivariable methods were used to determine the impact of decolonization therapy on the risks of sustained colonization (in study 1) and MRSA infection (in study 2).


Independent risk factors for sustained colonization included residence in a long-term care facility (odds ratio [OR], 1.8 [95% confidence interval {CI}, 1.1–3.2]) and a pressure ulcer (OR, 2.3 195% CI, 1.2–4.4]). Mupirocin at any dose decreased this risk, particularly during the 30-60-day period after therapy; mupirocin resistance increased this risk (OR, 4.1 [95% CI, 1.6–10.7]). Over a median follow-up duration of 269 days, 69 (7.4%) of 933 patients developed infection. Independent risk factors for infection were length of stay (hazard ratio [HR], 1.2 per 5 additional days [95% CI, 1.0–1.4]), chronic lung disease (HR, 1.7 [95% CI, 1.0–2.8]), and receipt of non-MRSA-active systemic antimicrobial agents (HR, 1.8 [95% CI, 1.1–3.1]). Receipt of mupirocin did not affect the risk of infection, although there was a trend toward delayed infection among patients receiving mupirocin (median time to infection, 50 vs 15.5 days; P = .06).


Mupirocin-based decolonization therapy temporarily reduced the risk of continued colonization but did not decrease the risk of subsequent infection.

Corresponding author
NorthShore University HealthSystem, 2650 Ridge Avenue, Burch 124, Evanston, IL 60201 (
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

1. P Shitrit , BS Gottesman , M Katzir , A Kilman , Y Ben-Nissan , M Chowers . Active surveillance for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) decreases the incidence of MRSA bacteremia. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2006;27:10041008.

2. G Ridenour , R Lampen , J Federspiel , S Kritchevsky , E Wong , M Climo . Selective use of intranasal mupirocin and Chlorhexidine bathing and the incidence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus colonization and infection among intensive care unit patients. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2007;28:11551161.

3. A Robicsek , TL Beaumont , SM Paule , et al. Universal surveillance for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in 3 affiliated hospitals. Ann Intern Med 2008;148:409418.

4. SS Huang , DS Yokoe , VL Hinrichsen , et al.Impact of routine intensive care unit surveillance cultures and resultant barrier precautions on hospital-wide methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia. Clin Infect Dis 2006;43:971978.

5. M Vriens , H Blok , A Fluit , A Troelstra , WC Van Der , J Verhoef . Costs associated with a strict policy to eradicate methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in a Dutch University Medical Center: a 10-year survey. Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis 2002;21:782786.

6. MA Miller , A Dascal , J Portnoy , J Mendelson . Development of mupirocin resistance among methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus after widespread use of nasal mupirocin ointment. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 1996;17:811813.

7. AE Simor , TL Stuart , L Louie , et al.Mupirocin-resistant, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strains in Canadian hospitals. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 2007;51:38803886.

8. KR Netto dos Santos , FL de Souza , PP Gontijo Filho . Emergence of high-level mupirocin resistance in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus isolated from Brazilian university hospitals. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 1996;17:813816.

9. JE Vasquez , ES Walker , BW Franzus , BK Overbay , DR Reagan , FA Sarubbi . The epidemiology of mupirocin resistance among methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus at a Veterans’ Affairs hospital. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2000;21:459464.

12. M Desjardins , C Guibord , B Lalonde , B Toye , K Ramotar . Evaluation of the IDI-MRSA assay for detection of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus from nasal and rectal specimens pooled in a selective broth. J Clin Microbiol 2006;44:12191223.

13. SJ Drews , BM Willey , N Kreiswirth , et al.Verification of the IDI-MRSA assay for detecting methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in diverse specimen types in a core clinical laboratory setting. J Clin Microbiol 2006;44:37943796.

14. SM Paule , D Hacek , B Kufner , et al.Performance of the BD GeneOhm methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus test before and during high-volume clinical use. J Clin Microbiol 2007;45:29932998.

16. A Elixhauser , C Steiner , DR Harris , RM Coffey . Comorbidity measures for use with administrative data. Med Care 1998;36:827.

17. SS Huang , R Platt . Risk of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection after previous infection or colonization. Clin Infect Dis 2003;36:281285.

19. JN Martin , F Perdreau-Remington , M Kartalija , et al.A randomized clinical trial of mupirocin in the eradication of Staphylococcus aureus nasal carriage in human immunodeficiency virus disease. J Infect Dis 1999;180:896899.

20. L Mody , CA Kauffman , SA McNeil , AT Galecki , SF Bradley . Mupirocin-based decolonization of Staphylococcus aureus carriers in residents of 2 long-term care facilities: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Clin Infect Dis 2003;37:14671474.

21. MD Kalmeijer , H Coertjens , PM van Nieuwland-Bollen , et al.Surgical site infections in orthopedic surgery: the effect of mupirocin nasal ointment in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Clin Infect Dis 2002;35:353358.

22. TM Perl , JJ Cullen , RP Wenzel , et al.Intranasal mupirocin to prevent postoperative Staphylococcus aureus infections. N Engl J Med 2002;346:18711877.

23. HF Wertheim , MC Vos , A Ott , et al.Mupirocin prophylaxis against nosocomial Staphylococcus aureus infections in nonsurgical patients: a randomized study. Ann Intern Med 2004;140:419425.

25. M Perez-Fontan , T Garcia-Falcon , M Rosales , et al.Treatment of Staphylococcus aureus nasal carriers in continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis with mupirocin: long-term Results. Am J Kidney Dis 1993;22:708712.

26. JE Cederna , MS Terpenning , M Ensberg , SF Bradley , CA Kauffman . Staphylococcus aureus nasal colonization in a nursing home: eradication with mupirocin. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 1990;11:1316.

27. C Watanakunakorn , C Axelson , B Bota , C Stahl . Mupirocin ointment with and without Chlorhexidine baths in the eradication of Staphylococcus aureus nasal carriage in nursing home residents. Am J Infect Control 1995;23:306309.

28. ME Falagas , IA Bliziotis , KN Fragoulis . Oral rifampin for eradication of Staphylococcus aureus carriage from healthy and sick populations: a systematic review of the evidence from comparative trials. Am J Infect Control 2007;35:106114.

29. C Fernandez , C Gaspar , A Torrellas , et al.A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of mupirocin calcium ointment for eliminating nasal carriage of Staphylococcus aureus among hospital personnel. J Antimicrob Chemother 1995;35:399408.

30. A Scanvic , L Dénie , S Gaillon , P Giry , A Andremont , JC Lucet . Duration of colonization by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus after hospital discharge and risk factors for prolonged carriage. Clin Infect Dis 2001;32:13931398.

32. KA Davis , JJ Stewart , HK Crouch , CE Florez , DR Hospenthal . Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) nares colonization at hospital admission and its effect on subsequent MRSA infection. Clin Infect Dis 2004;39:776782.

33. C von Eiff , K Becker , K Machka , H Stammer , G Peters . Nasal carriage as a source of Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia. N Engl J Med 2001;344:1116.

34. HF Wertheim , MC Vos , A Ott , et al.Risk and outcome of nosocomial Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia in nasal carriers versus non-carriers. Lancet 2004;364:703705.

35. JA Kluytmans , JW Mouton , EP Ijzerman , et al.Nasal carriage of Staphylococcus aureus as a major risk factor for wound infections after cardiac surgery. J Infect Dis 1995;171:216219.

36. SS Huang , DJ Diekema , DK Warren , et al.Strain-relatedness of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus isolates recovered from patients with repeated infection. Clin Infect Dis 2008;46:12411247.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology
  • ISSN: 0899-823X
  • EISSN: 1559-6834
  • URL: /core/journals/infection-control-and-hospital-epidemiology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score