BACKGROUND - Eradication of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) carriage may reduce the risk of MRSA infection and prevent transmission of the organism to other patients.
METHODS - To determine the efficacy of decolonization therapy, patients colonized with MRSA were randomized (3:1 allocation) to receive treatment (2% chlorhexidine gluconate washes and 2% mupirocin ointment intranasally, with oral rifampin and doxycycline for 7 days), or no treatment. Follow-up samples for MRSA culture were obtained from the nares, perineum, skin lesions, and catheter exit sites monthly for up to 8 months. The primary outcome measure was detection of MRSA at 3 months of follow-up. Univariate and multivariable analyses were performed to identify variables associated with treatment failure.
RESULTS - Of 146 patients enrolled in the study, 112 patients (87 treated; 25 not treated) were followed up for at least 3 months. At 3 months of follow-up, 64 (74%) of those treated had culture results negative for MRSA, compared with 8 (32%) of those not treated (P=.0001). This difference remained significant at 8 months of follow-up, at which time, 54% of those treated had culture results negative for MRSA (chi2=64.4; P<.0001, by log-rank test). The results of the multivariable analysis indicated that having a mupirocin-resistant isolate at baseline was associated with treatment failure (relative risk, 9.4; 95% confidence interval, 2.8-31.9; P=.0003), whereas decolonization therapy was protective (relative risk, 0.1; 95% confidence interval, 0.04-0.4; P=.0002). Mupirocin resistance emerged in only 5% of follow-up isolates.
CONCLUSIONS - Treatment with topical mupirocin, chlorhexidine gluconate washes, oral rifampin, and doxycycline for 7 days was safe and effective in eradicating MRSA colonization in hospitalized patients for at least 3 months.