High Perineal and Overall Frequency of Staphylococcus aureus in People Who Inject Drugs, Compared to Non-Injectors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


To investigate the prevalence, distribution, and colonization burden of Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) and MRSA in different body sites among people who inject drugs (PWID) and compare it to a control group consisting of non-injectors. In this cross-sectional survey, 49 active PWID from the needle exchange program (NEP) in Malmö, Sweden, and 60 non-injecting controls from an emergency psychiatric inpatient ward at Malmö Addiction Centre were tested for S. aureus (including MRSA) by culture, PCR, and MALDI-TOF. Samples were taken from anterior nares, throat, perineum, and skin lesions if present. Sixty-seven percent of the PWID were colonized with S. aureus, compared to 50% of the controls (P = 0.08). Perineal carriage was significantly more frequent among PWID than in the control group [37 vs 17%, OR 2.96 (95% CI 1.13–7.75), P = 0.03], also after adjusting for sex and age in multivariate analysis [OR 4.01 (95% CI 1.34–12.03)]. Only one individual in the whole cohort (NEP participant) tested positive for MRSA. PWID may be more frequently colonized with S. aureus in the perineum than non-injection drug users, and there was a trend indicating more frequent overall S. aureus colonization in PWID, as well as higher perineal colonization burden. No indication of a high MRSA prevalence among PWID in Sweden was noted. However, further MRSA prevalence studies among PWID are needed. Knowledge about S. aureus colonization is important for the prevention of S. aureus infections with high morbidity in PWID.


External organisations
  • Skåne University Hospital
  • Örebro University
  • Växjö Central Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Microbiology in the medical area
  • Substance Abuse
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-167
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Microbiology
Issue number2
Early online date2016 Nov 28
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Feb
Publication categoryResearch

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