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Clinical and Molecular Epidemiology of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus in New Zealand: Rapid Emergence of Sequence Type 5 (ST5)-SCCmec-IV as the Dominant Community-Associated MRSA Clone

Abstract

The predominant community-associated MRSA strains vary between geographic settings, with ST8-IV USA300 being the commonest clone in North America, and the ST30-IV Southwest Pacific clone established as the dominant clone in New Zealand for the past two decades. Moreover, distinct epidemiological risk factors have been described for colonisation and/or infection with CA-MRSA strains, although these associations have not previously been characterized in New Zealand. Based on data from the annual New Zealand MRSA survey, we sought to describe the clinical and molecular epidemiology of MRSA in New Zealand. All non-duplicate clinical MRSA isolates from New Zealand diagnostic laboratories collected as part of the annual MRSA survey were included. Demographic data was collected for all patients, including age, gender, ethnicity, social deprivation index and hospitalization history. MRSA was isolated from clinical specimens from 3,323 patients during the 2005 to 2011 annual surveys. There were marked ethnic differences, with MRSA isolation rates significantly higher in Māori and Pacific Peoples. Over the study period, there was a significant increase in CA-MRSA, and a previously unidentified PVL-negative ST5-IV spa t002 clone replaced the PVL-positive ST30-IV Southwest Pacific clone as the dominant CA-MRSA clone. Of particular concern was the finding of several successful and virulent MRSA clones from other geographic settings, including ST93-IV (Queensland CA-MRSA), ST8-IV (USA300) and ST772-V (Bengal Bay MRSA). Ongoing molecular surveillance is essential to prevent these MRSA strains becoming endemic in the New Zealand healthcare setting.

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