Prevalence of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Colonization in Medical Students at the El Paso/CD. Juarez Border Region

Samantha Michelle Meza, University of Texas at El Paso


Background: Due to the constant use, misuse, and over-prescription of antibiotics, antibiotic resistance has become a global public health threat. Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) continues to prevail in healthcare settings and is the cause of many nosocomial infections worldwide. A risk factor for developing an active MRSA infection is the colonization of the pathogen in the anterior nares. Over the past two decades, MRSA infections have increased in both the hospital and the community setting, often infecting healthy individuals lacking common risk factors. Healthcare workers with constant exposure to MRSA are more likely to be colonized and can potentially serve as vectors in the transmission of MRSA to hospital patients. Objective: The objective of this project is to establish the carrier status of first-year osteopathic medical students by conducting nasal swabs on the participants and characterizing the bacteria through selective media and genetic characterization methods. Methods: Researchers from Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine recruited first-year osteopathic medical students to serve as subject participants and graduate students from New Mexico State University to serve as control participants. BCOM researchers administered a participant survey and conducted nasal swabs on all participants. The samples were then transported to UTEP for laboratory analysis where they underwent identification for Staphylococcus aureus and MRSA. Results: 36 participants were recruited, 32 subjects and 4 controls. 33.3% resulted in being positive for Staphylococcus aureus colonization, 31.3% of subjects and 50% of controls. None of the samples resulted in being positive for MRSA. Conclusions: The results of this thesis study are similar to those of other studies who examined prevalence of colonization in pre-clinical medical students. In addition, the results are similar to the CDC’s estimate of 33% of individuals being S. aureus carriers and 2% being MRSA carriers. The findings of this study are relevant to U.S.-Mexico border region by examining the colonization prevalence in future healthcare professionals and continuing the surveillance to assess the impact of healthcare exposure on nasal colonization.

Subject Area

Public health

Recommended Citation

Meza, Samantha Michelle, "Prevalence of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Colonization in Medical Students at the El Paso/CD. Juarez Border Region" (2018). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10812625.