Epidemiology and Infection

Original Papers

Staphylococci, bloodstream infections

Prevalence and population structure of Staphylococcus aureus nasal carriage in healthcare workers in a general population. The Tromsø Staph and Skin Study

K. OLSENa1a2 c1, M. SANGVIKa3, G. S. SIMONSENa1a3, J. U. E. SOLLIDa3, A. SUNDSFJORDa3, I. THUNEa2a4 and A.-S. FURBERGa1a2

a1 Department of Microbiology and Infection Control, University Hospital of North Norway, Tromsø, Norway

a2 Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway

a3 Department of Medical Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway

a4 Department of Oncology, Oslo University Hospital, Ullevål, Oslo, Norway


Healthcare workers (HCWs) may be a reservoir for Staphylococcus aureus transmission to patients. We examined whether HCW status is associated with S. aureus nasal carriage and population structure (spa types) in 1302 women (334 HCWs) and 977 men (71 HCWs) aged 30–69 years participating in the population-based Tromsø Study in 2007–2008. Multivariable logistic regression models were used. While no methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) was isolated, overall, 26·2% of HCWs and 26·0% of non-HCWs were S. aureus nasal carriers. For women overall and women residing with children, the odds ratios for nasal carriage were 1·54 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1·09–2·19] and 1·86 (95% CI 1·14–3·04), respectively, in HCWs compared to non-HCWs. Moreover, HCWs vs. non-HCWs had a 2·17 and 3·16 times higher risk of spa types t012 and t015, respectively. This supports the view that HCWs have an increased risk of S. aureus nasal carriage depending on gender, family status and spa type.

(Received December 21 2011)

(Revised February 21 2012)

(Accepted February 21 2012)

(Online publication March 22 2012)

Key words

  • Healthcare worker;
  • infection control;
  • population-based;
  • residing with children;
  • Staphylococcus aureus nasal carriage