Elimination of coincident Staphylococcus aureus nasal and hand carriage with intranasal application of mupirocin calcium ointment

David R. Reagan, Bradley N. Doebbeling, Michael A. Pfaller, Carol T. Sheetz, Alison K. Houston, Richard J. Hollis, Richard P. Wenzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

281 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the safety and efficacy of mupirocin calcium ointment in the elimination of Staphylococcus aureus nasal and hand carriage in healthy persons. Design: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial. Setting: Clinical research unit of a tertiary medical center. Subjects: Health care workers with stable S. aureus nasal carriage. Interventions: Subjects (n = 68) were randomly assigned to receive either mupirocin or placebo intranasally twice daily for 5 days. Measurements and Main Results: Cultures of the hands and nares were obtained at baseline and 72 hours after therapy. The nares were also cultured 1, 2, 4, and 12 weeks after therapy. Antimicrobial susceptibility testing and restriction endonuclease analysis of plasmid DNA were used to confirm strain identity. There were no serious side effects. Mupirocin decreased the frequency of S. aureus nasal carriage at each time interval: At 3 months, 71% of subjects receiving mupirocin remained free of nasal S. aureus compared with 18% of controls. This difference (53%; 95% CI, 26% to 80%) was significant (P < 0.0001). Additionally, analysis of plasmid patterns showed that 79% of subjects in the mupirocin group were free of the initial colonizing strain at 3 months. The proportion of hand cultures positive for S. aureus in the mupirocin group after therapy was lower than in the placebo group (2.9% compared with 57.6%). This difference (53%; 95 CI, 30% to 80%) was significant, after adjustment for the frequency of hand carriage at baseline (P < 0.0001). Conclusions: When applied intranasally for 5 days, mupirocin calcium ointment is safe and effective in eliminating S. aureus nasal carriage in healthy persons for up to 3 months and appears to have a corresponding effect on hand carriage at 72 hours after therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-106
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Internal Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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