Prevalence and resistance patterns of commensal S. aureus in community-dwelling GP patients and socio-demographic associations. A cross-sectional study in the framework of the APRES-project in Austria

K. Hoffmann*, C.D.J. den Heijer, A. George, P. Apfalter, M. Maier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: The aim of the present study was to assess the prevalence and resistance of commensal S. aureus in the nasal microbiota of community-dwelling persons in Austria, as well as to identify possible associations with socio-demographic factors. Multi-drug resistance in this population was additionally studied.

Method: This cross-sectional study was conducted within the context of the European APRES project. In nine European countries, nasal swabs were collected from 32,206 general practice patients who received care for non-infectious reasons. In Austria, 20 GPs attempted to recruit 200 consecutive patients without infectious diseases, with each patient completing demographic questionnaires as well as providing a nose swab sample. Isolation, identification, and resistance testing of S. aureus were performed. Statistical analyses included subgroup analyses and logistic regression models.

Results: 3309 nose swabs and corresponding questionnaires from Austrian subjects were analyzed. S. aureus was identified in 16.6 % (n = 549) of nose swabs, of which 70.1 % were resistant against one or more antibiotics, mainly penicillin. S. aureus carrier status was significantly associated with male sex (OR 1.6; 1.3-2.0), younger age (OR 1.3; 1.0-1.8), living in a rural area (OR 1.4; 1.1-1.7) and working in the healthcare sector (OR 1.5; 1.0-2.1). Multi-drug resistances were identified in 13.7 % (n = 75) of the S. aureus carriers and 1.5 % (n = 8) tested positive for MRSA. The highest resistance rate was observed against penicillin (64.8 %), followed by azithromycin (13.5 %) and erythromycin with 13.3 %.

Conclusion: This study describes the prevalence and resistance patterns of commensal S. aureus in community-dwelling persons in Austria and shows that differences exist between socio-demographic groups. Demographic associations have been found for S. aureus carriers but not for carriers of resistant S. aureus strains. Only two thirds of S. aureus strains were found to be resistant against small spectrum penicillin. As it is recognized that one of the corner stones for the containment of antibiotic resistance is the appropriate prescription of antibiotics in the outpatient sector, this finding lends support to the avoidance of prescription of broad-spectrum antibiotics to treat S. aureus infections in the community.

Original languageEnglish
Article number213
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2015


  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • MRSA
  • Commensal antibiotic resistances
  • Primary health care
  • Austria

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