Mupirocin Susceptibility of Staphylococci 2022: Is it time for a change in MRSA decolonization protocols?

Published:September 14, 2022DOI:



      Nasal decolonization with mupirocin has been a common strategy for the prevention of surgical site infections (SSIs) and recurrent skin and soft tissue infections due to Staphylococcus aureus (SA). We recently noted an increase in SSIs due to SA, including a case of post-operative mupirocin-resistant methicillin-resistant SA (MRSA) infection despite attempted preoperative decolonization with mupirocin. We therefore evaluated the mupirocin susceptibility of SA at our hospital to determine the optimal regimen for decolonization.


      SA isolates were recovered from clinical and screening samples received in the microbiology laboratory. Mupirocin susceptibility was determined using e-tests and isolates were categorized as susceptible or resistant using a breakpoint MIC value of 4mcg/ml.


      223 unique SA isolates from 218 patients were tested. Twenty-four SA isolates (10.8%) were resistant to mupirocin (20 MRSA and 4 methicillin-sensitive SA [MSSA]). MRSA strains were more likely to be resistant to mupirocin than MSSA strains (22.5% versus 3.0%, p<0.001).


      The emergence of drug resistance makes the policy of decolonization with nasal mupirocin a suboptimal strategy for the prevention of MRSA infections. In our study, less than 80% of MRSA strains were mupirocin susceptible. In patients colonized with MRSA at high risk for infection (e.g., total joint replacement), other regimens such as intranasal povidone iodine may be preferrable to mupirocin for patient decolonization.

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