Background/Purpose: A rapid diagnostic method for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has been implemented for surveillance of the at-risk population, but its performance in those without traditional risk factors is not clear. The objective of this study was to evaluate MRSA colonization status by comparing the performance of the BD GeneOhm MRSA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay with that of conventional culture during a 3-month active surveillance of Taiwanese adults in the community. Methods: From 1 October 2007 to 28 December 2007, adults (≥ 18 years old) attending a mandatory health examination arranged by their employers as a part of the workplace health promotion program at three medical centers in northern Taiwan were enrolled in the study. No healthcare workers were included. A total of 498 paired nasal swabs were prospectively obtained and used for both the BD GeneOhm MRSA PCR assay and conventional culture. Results: Of the 498 paired nasal swabs, 14 (2.8%) were positive for MRSA by conventional culture and 34 (6.8%) were positive by the BD GeneOhm MRSA PCR assay (p < 0.005). Thirteen specimens were both culture- and PCR-positive, and 463 samples were both culture- and PCR-negative. There were two discordant results: 21 specimens were culture-negative/PCR-positive, and one was culture-positive/PCR-negative. The simple kappa coefficient for measuring the agreement between conventional culture and the MRSA PCR assay was 0.52. Conclusion: This study demonstrates the feasibility of using both the MRSA PCR assay and conventional culture as surveillance tools. Also, the MRSA-positive rate detected by MRSA PCR assay was significantly higher than that of conventional culture.
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