Epidemiology and Infection

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA): a community-based prevalence survey

L.  ABUDU  a1 c1, I.  BLAIR  a2, A.  FRAISE  a3 and K. K.  CHENG  a4
a1 Public Health Department, Worcestershire Health Authority, Shrub Hill Road, Worcester WR4 9RW
a2 Public Health Department, Sandwell Health Authority, High Street, West Bromwich B70 9LD
a3 Department of Medical Microbiology, City Hospital, Dudley Road, Birmingham B18 7QH
a4 Department of Public Health and Epidemiology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT


A prevalence survey of nasal methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) carriage was undertaken on a random sample of adults (aged over 16) resident in the community in Birmingham, UK during 1998. Microbiological samples were taken from the anterior nares at the subjects' general practice or in their home. Information about risk factors for the acquisition of MRSA was obtained via a self-completed questionnaire. A 58% response rate (280/483) was achieved. The prevalence of nasal MRSA colonization was 1.5% [4/274, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.03–2.9%]. Twenty-three per cent (63/274) of subjects were nasal carriers of S. aureus. Six per cent (4/63) of S. aureus isolates were MRSA and 2 of the 4 MRSA carriers reported previous contact with health facilities. The prevalence of MRSA colonization in the general adult population in Birmingham appears to be low.

(Accepted December 20 2000)

c1 Author for correspondence.