Contamination of public transports by Staphylococcus aureus and its carriage by biomedical students

Point-prevalence, related risk factors and molecular characterization of methicillin-resistant strains

Mendes, P. Martins da Costa, D. Rego, N. Beça, C. Alves, T. Moreira, T. Conceição, M. Aires-de-Sousa

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Objectives: To analyse the contamination of public transports by Staphylococcus aureus and assess its carriage by biomedical students, focussing on the point-prevalence, related risk factors and molecular characterization of methicillin-resistant strains. Study design: Cross-sectional survey. Methods: Methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) and methicillin-sensitive S. aureus (MSSA) isolated from handrails of buses (n = 112) and trains (n = 79) circulating in Porto and from nasal swabs of local university students (n = 475) were quantified, characterized by molecular typing methods and related to possible risk factors. Results: The MRSA prevalence in buses (16.1%) was not significantly different from trains (8.9%). There was also no identifiable association between the counts of MSSA and MRSA in buses and trains and the number of travellers in each sampling day, specific routes (including those passing by main hospitals) or other risk factors. Of the students, 37.1% carried S. aureus, and having a part-time job or smoking were found to be risk factors for carriage. EMRSA-15 (ST22-SCC. mecIVh) was the prevalent MRSA clonal lineage, found not only in the buses (n = 14) and trains (n = 2) but also in the single MRSA-carrier among the students. The characteristics of the community-associated Southwest Pacific MRSA clone were found in a single ST30-IVa isolate, which may suggest a recent SCC. mec acquisition by an MSSA background in the community. Conclusions: The spread of EMRSA-15, a common hospital-associated lineage, among different public transports and as a nasal coloniser is of concern and warrants adequate public health control measures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1125-1131
Number of pages7
JournalPublic Health
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2015



  • Biomedical students
  • MRSA
  • Public transport vehicles

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