Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in the absence of vancomycin exposure

Cynthia J. Whitener, Sarah Y. Park, Fred A. Browne, Leslie J. Parent, Kathleen Julian, Bülent Bozdogan, Peter C. Appelbaum, Jasmine Chaitram, Linda M. Weigel, John Jernigan, Linda K. McDougal, Fred C. Tenover, Scott K. Fridkin

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133 Scopus citations


We report findings from our investigation of the world's second clinical isolate of vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VRSA). An elderly man was hospitalized with an infected chronic heel ulcer and osteomyelitis. Before hospital admission, he received multiple courses of antibiotic therapy but, notably, no vancomycin. Numerous cultures of ulcer specimens (performed on an outpatient basis) grew methicillin-resistant, vancomycin-susceptible S. aureus and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus species. At admission, an additional culture of a specimen from the heel ulcer grew S. aureus that was identified as VRSA (minimal inhibitory concentration for vancomycin [by broth-microdilution], 32 μg/mL). Further evaluation confirmed the presence of the vanA gene mediating vancomycin resistance. To assess VRSA transmission, we performed a carriage study of 283 identified contacts and an environmental survey of the patient's home; no VRSA isolates were recovered. This case illustrates that recent exposure by patients to vancomycin is not necessary for development of vanA-containing VRSA. For clinical and public health reasons, it is essential that microbiology laboratories adequately test for vancomycin-resistance in S. aureus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1049-1055
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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