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Antibiotic-Resistant S. aureus Found in Many Ambulances

S. aureus isolates found in 69 percent of ambulances; 12 percent of isolates are MRSA

WEDNESDAY, April 4 (HealthDay News) -- Antibiotic-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) are found in the majority of advanced life support (ALS) ambulances in the Chicago area, according to a study published in the April issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.

James V. Rago, Ph.D., from Lewis University in Romeoville, Ill., and associates investigated the frequency of S. aureus in front-line ALS ambulances using samples obtained from 26 sites in 71 ambulances from 34 Chicago-area municipalities. Using eight clinically relevant antibiotics, antibiotic resistance profiles were determined for each isolate.

The researchers found at least one S. aureus isolate in approximately 69 percent of all ambulances. Seventy-seven percent of the isolates detected showed resistance to at least one antibiotic, and 34 percent were resistant to two or more antibiotics. Twenty-one percent of isolates displayed some level of resistance to oxacillin, and just over half of these carried the methicillin-resistant S. aureus-specific SCCmec cassette. Twelve percent of isolates were methicillin-resistant S. aureus.

"Antibiotic resistance appears to be prevalent in S. aureus isolates detected in Chicago area ALS ambulances," the authors write. "Given the ease with which S. aureus can survive on inanimate surfaces and exchange antibiotic resistance elements, a conscientious approach to the application of existing cleaning techniques, especially in key ambulance sites, is needed."

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