The control of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) relies on the rapid and sensitive detection of carriage. The roles of an enrichment broth, duration of incubation, and Baird-Parker medium containing ciprofloxacin (BPC) were evaluated in comparison with standard media in a centre where the prevalence of ciprofloxacin resistance among MRSA is over 98%. Screening swabs from 402 sites were plated onto BPC, mannitol salt agar (MSA), and MSA with methicillin (MMSA). The swabs were enriched in Tryptone-T broth with 6% salt for 24 hours and the broths subcultured onto BPC, MSA, and MMSA. MRSA was isolated from 134 swabs. Significantly more isolates were obtained by incubating culture plates for 42 hours rather than 18 hours, by the use of broth enrichment, and by addition of methicillin or ciprofloxacin to media. BPC was the most sensitive medium (107 isolates (80%) by direct culture at 42 hours), grew the fewest contaminants, and allowed provisional reporting of 73% of isolates at 18 hours by colonial appearance and use of Staphaurex Plus rapid latex reagent. This may allow the introduction of infection control measures a day earlier than when other established methods are used.
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