Spread of Staphylococcus aureus clinical isolates carrying Panton–Valentine leukocidin genes during a 3-year period in Greece


Corresponding author and reprint requests: I. Spiliopoulou, Department of Microbiology, School of Medicine, University of Patras, Rion 26500, Patras, Greece
E-mail: spiliopl@med.upatras.gr


Three collections of Staphylococcus aureus isolates (n = 1058) were investigated to assess the spread of Panton–Valentine leukocidin (PVL)-producing strains in Greece and their association with skin and soft-tissue infections (SSTIs). The isolates were collected during 2001–2003 from inpatients and outpatients with invasive infections in two distinct geographical areas. Clonal types were identified according to their ClaI-mecA::ClaI-Tn554::pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns, and the presence of the lukS-PV and lukF-PV genes was assessed by PCR. In total, 287 (27%) S. aureus isolates carried the PVL genes: 45% of methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) and 12% of methicillin-sensitive S. aureus (MSSA). All the PVL-positive MRSA isolates belonged to a single clone that was disseminated in the community and hospitals. The PVL-positive MSSA isolates were polyclonal, with 14 of 65 isolates being associated with hospital-acquired infections. The community-acquired isolates were from SSTIs, while the hospital-acquired isolates were associated with surgical wound infections, especially those involving prosthetic devices. Thus, a unique clone of PVL-positive MRSA has spread in both the community and the hospital setting in Greece, and has replaced older clonal types.