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Dublin Dental Hospital

TCD scientists find significant increases in MRSA strains outside of hospitals

Between 2002 and 2011, researchers identified a 44-fold increase in the prevalence of PVL-positive MRSA.

SCIENTISTS FROM TRINITY College have discovered that strains of MRSA, which is usually associated with being in hospitals, have moved outside of hospital settings and can be found in communities.

The researchers said there was a “significant increase” in the presence of the PVL-positive MRSA in non-hospital environments and that now it more likely to be found amoung individuals in the community.

Irish National MRSA Reference Lab

Among MRSA samples submitted to the Irish National MRSA Reference Laboratory between 2002 and 2011, the authors identified a 44-fold increase in the prevalence of PVL-positive MRSA and a six-fold increase in the number of PVL-positive MRSA samples resistant to multiple antibiotics. Scientists believe that international travel is likely to have been a significant contributory factor.

The study was carried out be microbiologists from the Dental School in Trinity College Dublin in collaboration with the National MRSA Reference Laboratory at St. James’s Hospital Dublin and Alere Technologies in Germany, with their findings published in The Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

Scientists also found clusters of PVL-positive MRSA within families and among patients in hospitals, which they said highlights the serious challenge that these MRSA strains present for infection prevention and control and for the treatment of infections caused by these organisms both in hospitals and in communities.


Professor David Coleman, Professor and Chair of Oral and Applied Microbiology, School of Dental Science, Trinity said the increase in Ireland over the last decade is a “worrying development” adding that “enhanced surveillance in both hospitals and communities is vital to ensure that these strains do not spread and become more established”.

PVL-positive MRSA strains are more likely to be found among individuals in the community rather than in a hospital setting which is where MRSA is usually associated.

The toxin can enhance the bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus, to cause disease through the destruction of white blood cells and damage to skin and soft tissues.


Dr Brian O’Connell, Director of the National MRSA Reference Laboratory (NMRSARL) said they had been providing a service for the detection of PVL-positive S. aureus for over 10 years and the emergence of these strains in Ireland.

“This paper details the diversity of the strains that are circulating and highlights the importance of continued surveillance, co-ordinated by a national reference laboratory, as some of these strains may cause prolonged and protracted outbreaks in the future,” he said.

Read: TCD researchers discover how MRSA bacterium is carried in human nose>

Read: CDI is more common than MRSA and kills one in three Irish patients infected>

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