Approximately 30% of people have the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) in their nasal passages. Within this group, approximately 1-2% are colonized with methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), although many do not display any symptoms.1 MRSA is an opportunistic pathogen that can potentially cause diseases such as pneumonia, skin infections and sepsis. MRSA infections are commonly grouped into two categories, hospital associated (HA) or community associated (CA) based on where the infection was acquired and the profile of antibiotic resistance. S. aureus and MRSA can spread between individuals through physical contact and presents a serious health hazard to patients if healthcare professionals are carriers. This research focuses on the detection and characterization of S. aureus strains found among a population of healthy nursing majors in multiple sections of a laboratory course at St. John Fisher College. Samples collected from the nasal passages of students were characterized using mannitol salt agar, Gram-staining procedures, blood agar, CHROMagar MRSA II and were subjected to antibiotic resistance testing. Based on the findings of this experiment, it is clear that S. aureus is present in healthy individuals. Results from the spring and fall trials demonstrated that S. aureus was present in 31% and 50% of the sample population respectively. Despite only one strain testing positive for MRSA, many other strains did exhibit antibiotic resistance similar to that of HA-MRSA. Our results reveal a vast array of S. aureus strains present in healthcare workers and support the argument that there needs to be increased awareness and policies to help prevent the transmission of infection to patients.
Rath, Jennifer; Christmas, Breanna; Picardo, Kristin F.; and Westbay, Theresa (2015). "Characterization of Staphylococcus Aureus Isolated from the Nasal Cavity Flora of Nursing Majors." Journal of Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Excellence VI.I, 1-6.
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