NYMC Faculty Publications


Staphylococcus Aureus Nasal Carriage and Microbiome Composition Among Medical Students from Colombia: a Cross-Sectional Study

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Microbiology and Immunology


Background: The anterior nares are the main ecological niche for Staphylococcus aureus, an important commensal and opportunistic pathogen. Medical students are frequently colonized by a variety of pathogens. Microbial interactions in the human nose can prevent or favor colonization by pathogens, and individuals colonized by pathogens have increased risk of infection and are the source of transmission to other community members or susceptible individuals. According to recent studies, the microbiome from several anatomic areas of healthy individuals varies across different ethnicities. Although previous studies analyzed the nasal microbiome in association with S. aureus carriage, those studies did not provide information regarding ethnicity of participants. Our aim was to assess S. aureus nasal carriage patterns and prevalence among medical students from Colombia, a country of Hispanic origin, and to investigate possible associations of colonization and nasal microbiome composition (bacterial and fungal) in a subgroup of students with known S. aureus carriage patterns. Methods: Nasal swabs from second-year medical students were used to determine prevalence and patterns of S. aureus nasal carriage. Based on microbiological results, we assigned participants into one of three patterns of S. aureus colonization: persistent, intermittent, and non-carrier. Then, we evaluated the composition of nasal microbial communities (bacterial and fungal) in 5 individuals from each carriage category using 16S rRNA and Internal-Transcribed-Spacer sequencing. Results: Prevalence of S. aureus nasal carriage among medical students was 28%. Carriage of methicillin-resistant strains was 8.4% and of methicillin-sensitive strains was 19.6%. We identified 19.6% persistent carriers, 17.5% intermittent carriers, and 62.9% non-carriers. Conclusions: Analysis of nasal microbiome found that bacterial and fungal diversity was higher in individuals colonized by S. aureus than in non-carriers; however, the difference among the three groups was non-significant. We confirmed that fungi were present within the healthy anterior nares at substantial biomass and richness.

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