Surveillance for mupirocin resistance following introduction of routine peri-operative prophylaxis with nasal mupirocin

W. N. Fawley, P. Parnell, J. Hall, Mark H. Wilcox*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


The authors have previously described the successful use of a five-day peri-operative prophylaxis regimen using nasal mupirocin and topical triclosan (PPNMTT) to prevent methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection. The present article describes the results of repeated point-prevalence surveillance for four years to determine whether mupirocin resistance has emerged in surgical units using empirical, short-term, peri-operative prophylaxis with nasal mupirocin. Before starting PPNMTT and every six months thereafter for four years, point-prevalence surveillance was performed for nasal S. aureus carriage in all patients on five orthopaedic surgery wards, one vascular surgery ward and one elderly medicine control ward. S. aureus screening and clinical isolates (surgical patients) were undertaken for low- [minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) 8-128 mg/L] and high-level (MIC>128 mg/ L) mupirocin resistance. All isolates were phage typed to determine whether there was evidence of the spread of clonal mupirocin-resistant strains. Of 593, 139 and 206 nasal screening swabs (taken after the regimen had started) from orthopaedic, vascular and control patients, 28%, 24% and 48% (orthopaedic/vascular surgery vs elderly medicine, P<0.001) yielded S. aureus isolates, respectively, and 12%, 11% and 30% (P<0.001) were MRSA positive, respectively. Of the S. aureus nasal screen isolates from orthopaedic/vascular surgery and control patients, 5% and 4%, respectively, were low-level mupirocin resistant (P>0.1). Of 286 (orthopaedic/vascular surgery) and 68 (elderly medicine) clinical S. aureus isolates obtained after the regimen had started, 7% and 9% (P>0.1), respectively, were low-level mupirocin resistant. No high-level mupirocin-resistant isolates were isolated from mupirocin (orthopaedic/vascular surgery) or elderly medicine control ward patients. There was no trend towards increasing prevalence of low-level mupirocin resistance during the four-year study period. The results of phage typing did not support the clonal spread of resistant strains. Long-term follow-up confirmed the efficacy of PPNMTT in reducing the prevalence of nasal carriage of S. aureus and MRSA in orthopaedic and vascular surgery patients. Despite four years of use of PPNMTT, there was no evidence of sustained emergence or spread of mupirocin resistance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-332
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Hospital Infection
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • MRSA
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Surveillance


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