(HealthDay News) – Antibiotic-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) are found in the majority of advanced life support (ALS) ambulances in the Chicago area.

James V. Rago, PhD, from Lewis University in Romeoville, Ill., and associates investigated the frequency of S. aureus in front-line ALS ambulances using samples obtained from 26 sites in 71 ambulances from 34 Chicago-area municipalities. Using eight clinically relevant antibiotics, antibiotic resistance profiles were determined for each isolate.

The researchers found at least one S. aureus isolate in approximately 69% of all ambulances. Seventy-seven percent of the isolates detected showed resistance to at least one antibiotic, and 34% were resistant to two or more antibiotics. Twenty-one percent of isolates displayed some level of resistance to oxacillin, and just over half of these carried the methicillin-resistant S. aureus-specific SCCmec cassette. Twelve percent of isolates were methicillin-resistant S. aureus.

“Antibiotic resistance appears to be prevalent in S. aureus isolates detected in Chicago area ALS ambulances,” the authors write. “Given the ease with which S. aureus can survive on inanimate surfaces and exchange antibiotic resistance elements, a conscientious approach to the application of existing cleaning techniques, especially in key ambulance sites, is needed.”

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