Detection of antibiotic resistance genes associated with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and coagulase-negative staphylococci in hospital air filter dust by PCR


Dust from the pre-filters of stand-alone hospital isolation room air cleaners was tested by PCR for the presence of antibiotic resistance genes associated with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and coagulase-negative staphylococci. Resistance genes for three classes of antibiotics (aac(6′)-aph(2″), ermA, and mecA) were detected in multiple samples, indicating the presence of genetic material and likely cells of multidrug-resistant MRSA and other staphylococci in hospital air and that stand-alone air cleaners can reduce airborne levels of these contaminants. Screening for vanA was negative. Our results further suggest that dust may serve as an important reservoir of genetic elements that can confer drug resistance.

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This study was funded in part by grants from AllerGen NCE and the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). All authors report no potential conflicts of interest with regard to this article. Elizabeth Lamb from Abatement Technologies kindly provided performance specifications of two of the devices tested.

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Correspondence to James A. Scott.

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Drudge, C.N., Krajden, S., Summerbell, R.C. et al. Detection of antibiotic resistance genes associated with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and coagulase-negative staphylococci in hospital air filter dust by PCR. Aerobiologia 28, 285–289 (2012).

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  • Hospital infection control
  • Bioaerosols
  • Drug resistance genes
  • Air cleaners
  • Dust microbiology