National surveillance of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in China highlights a still-evolving epidemiology with 15 novel emerging multilocus sequence types.
The global spread of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a serious problem, particularly in mainland China. In order to better understand the national molecular epidemiology and resistance profiles of hospital-associated MRSA (HA-MRSA) in China, a laboratory-based multicenter surveillance study was conducted. Sixty-nine hospitals in 45 large cities in 27 provinces were involved, and a total of 1,141 HA-MRSA isolates were collected during the 6-month study period in 2011. All MRSA isolates were characterized by multilocus sequence typing (MLST), staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec (SCCmec) typing, spa typing, detection of the Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) locus (lukS-PV and lukF-PV), and antibiogram analysis. ST239-III-t030, ST239-III-t037, and ST5-II-t002 were the predominant HA-MRSA clones (overall prevalence rates, 57.1%, 12.9%, and 8.1%, respectively), although the prevalence rates of these major clones varied markedly in different administrative regions. Of note, 6.6% of the HA-MRSA isolates were found to belong to ST59, which had typical community-associated MRSA (CA-MRSA) features, including carriage of SCCmec type IV or V and PVL and less antimicrobial resistance than other major HA-MRSA clones. Moreover, among 36 MLST sequence types (STs) identified, 15 STs, accounting for 3.5% of total isolates, were novel. A novel ST designated ST2590, which is a single-locus variant of ST5-II-t002, was identified in three hospitals in two large cities, with a total of 17 isolates. To further monitor trends in HA-MRSA prevalence, epidemic clonal shifts, clone emergence, and transmission between community and health care settings, longitudinal national MRSA surveillance is required.