Staphylococcus aureus and Panton-Valentine Leukocidin in Furunculosis or Boil

Title: Community-onset methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus associated with antibiotic use and the cytotoxin Panton-Valentine leukocidin during a furunculosis outbreak in rural Alaska.
: Baggett HC, et al.
Publication: J Infect Dis. 2004 May 1;189(9):1565-73. Epub 2004 Apr 16.

There was increasing report of cases of infection by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria that were resistant to methicillin antibiotics. These cases were community-onset, or originated outside of the hospital. During an outbreak of infection in Alaska, the authors assessed the risk factors for the disease and wanted to know whether a virulence factor called Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) – a toxin that is produced by Staphylococcus bacteria that can destroy white blood cells and other tissues, play a role.

The authors compared 34 cases of patients with methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection with 94 control or healthy subjects. They also went to traditional saunas in the area and took samples to test for the presence Staphylococcus. They did this by conducting a PCR experiment by looking for the presence of PVL genes as a proxy or marker for bacteria presence.

They found that patients treated for furunculosis were more likely to go to saunas that were infected with Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, than the healthy control subjects (44% of treated patients went, versus 13% of healthy controls).

The authors also found that the presence of PVL gene was closely linked to the resistant to methicillin antibiotics. Out of the 113 methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus, 110 or 97% had the PVL gene. They concluded that the use of antibiotics to treat Staphylococcus strain with the PVL gene may have led to the emergence of antibiotics-resistant strain of the bacteria in rural Alaska.

Editor’s Note: PCR or polymerase chain reaction is a technique used to amplify certain sequences of DNA. In this case, the authors tried to amplify PVL DNA in their test samples – positive results indicate the presence of this gene in the samples, and therefore the presence of Staphylococcus bacteria.

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