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To determine the frequency with which methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is spread from colonized or infected patients to their household and community contacts.
Retrospective cohort study.
Household and community contacts of MRSA-colonized or -infected patients for whom MRSA screening cultures were performed.
MRSA was isolated from 25 (14.5%) of 172 individuals. Among the contacts of index patients who had at least one MRSA-colonized contact, those with close contact to the index patient were 7.5 times more likely to be colonized (53% vs 7%; 95% confidence interval, 1.1 to 50.3; P = .002). An analysis of antimicrobial susceptibility and DNA fingerprint patterns suggested person-to-person spread.
MRSA colonization occurs frequently among household and community contacts of patients with nosocomially acquired MRSA, suggesting that transmission of nosocomially acquired MRSA outside of the healthcare setting may be a substantial source of MRSA colonization and infection in the community.
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