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Dissemination of Panton–Valentine leukocidin-positive methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in Okinawa, Japan


Yoshiko Mine, M.D., Department of Dermatology, Graduate School of Medicine, University of the Ryukyus, 207 Uehara, Nishihara, Okinawa 903-0215, Japan. Email:


Panton–Valentine leukocidin (PVL) is a pore-forming cytotoxin that is produced by Staphylococcus aureus closely associated with skin and soft-tissue infections (SSTI). PVL-positive S. aureus strains have been identified worldwide, including in the USA; however, few studies have reported the presence of these strains in Japan. In this study, we prospectively investigated the prevalence of PVL in S. aureus strains from outpatients presenting with SSTI in Okinawa and characterized the PVL-positive S. aureus strains by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and multilocus sequence typing (MLST). From 2008–2010, 499 clinical samples were obtained from 497 people. S. aureus was identified in 274 samples, and 36% (99 of 274) were methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA). Seventeen (6.2%) PVL-positive S. aureus strains were detected by PCR, and 12 of the 17 PVL-positive strains were MRSA. Most PVL-positive S. aureus caused furuncles or carbuncles. Nine of the 17 PVL-positive isolates had an ST8 MRSA genotype and most harbored SCCmec type IVa and the arcA gene of the arginine catabolic mobile element, which is identical to the USA300 clone prevalent in the USA. PVL-positive S. aureus strains were more likely to be resistant to erythromycin (65%) and levofloxacin (53%). PVL-positive S. aureus strains have emerged and are spreading as a causative pathogen for SSTI in Okinawa.