The reported rates of MRSA colonization in patients with community-associated MRSA SSTI have been surprisingly low, ranging from 7% to 41% (55% among hospitalized patients) (1), making it difficult to exclude MRSA as a causative pathogen based on a negative screening test alone.
The concordance between what grows from the nares and what is isolated from the SSTI site is also far from ideal. Among patients with methicillin-sensitive S. aureus (MSSA) SSTI , 12% may be colonized with MRSA and of those with MRSA SSTI, 32% may be colonized with MSSA (1).
In the absence of a reliable screening test to help us select an empiric antibiotic regimen in patients with SSTI, we should pay special attention to the clinical features of the SSTI. Empiric MRSA antibiotic coverage should be considered for patients with purulent SSTIs, deep tissue infections, or those with systemic toxicity( 2), irrespective of colonization status.
1. Ellis MW, Schlett CD, Millar EV, et al. Prevalence of nasal colonization and strain concordance in patients with community-associated Staphylococcus aureus skin and soft tissue infections. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2014;35:1251-6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25203178
2. Liu C, Bayer A, Cosgrove SE, et al. Clinical practice guidelines by the Infectious Diseases Society of America for the treatment of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections in adults and children. Clin Infect Dis 2011;52:e18-55.2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21208910