Scientific publications

Staphylococcus aureus nasal carriage among medical students

May 17, 2017 | Magazine: The Lancet. Infectious Diseases

Francisco Carmona-Torre  1 , Beatriz Torrellas  2 , Marta Rua  3 , Jose Ramon Yuste  4 , Jose Luis Del Pozo  5

We read with interest the longitudinal cohort study by James Price and colleagues1 reporting that health-care workers (including nurses, doctors, and physiotherapists) were infrequently sources of Staphylococcus aureus transmission to patients in the presence of standard infection control measures in non-outbreak situations.1,  2

Medical students constitute a commonly forgotten collective among health-care workers3 who are often not as well informed as other health-care personnel about standard infection control measures. In 2016 we did a transversal study, involving nasal swabbing and data collection, in three groups of medical students at our institution: first year (preclinical), fourth year (after one year of clinical practice), and sixth year (in the final year of their degree). All students gave written informed consent. The study was approved by the research ethics committee. We used one-way ANOVA, Kruskal-Wallis, and χ2 test, as appropriate, for statistical analysis.

Prevalence of S aureus nasal carriage was 34·6%, without significant differences among the three groups, similar to the prevalence in health-care workers (36·9%) reported by Price and colleagues.1 According to our data (table), medical students constitute a potential source of transmission of S aureus to patients, with the caveat that their knowledge of standard infection control measures is poor during the early years of clinical practice, raising the possibility of transmission during this period. Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was isolated in two preclinical students.

CITATION  Lancet Infect Dis. 2017 May;17(5):477-478. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(17)30188-3