An outbreak of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus cutaneous infection in a saturation diving facility

J. Wang, S. Barth, M. Richardson, K. Corson, J. Mader

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


We present a molecular epidemiological investigation of an outbreak of cutaneous tissue infection, which involved six divers during a 45 day saturation exposure dive. The cutaneous infection manifested as boils, foliculitis and small abscesses involving different body sites, including nose, external ear canal, necks, back, extremities, and buttocks. Staphylococcus aureus was consistently isolated from the skin lesions of affected divers. A study of the antibiogram revealed that all Staphylococcus aureus isolates were uniformly resistant to penicillin, oxacillin and erythromycin, but sensitive to clindamycin, tetracycline, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, rifampin and vancomycin. Molecular typing by pulse field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) demonstrated that all the Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) isolates had an indistinguishable pulsed field gel electrophoresis pattern. The source of outbreak was identified as a colonized diver (diver D). Personal contact was most likely the mode of transmission among the six divers. Infection with MRSA should be suspected in outbreaks of boils that are not responding to standard antibiotic therapy among healthy divers and their close contacts. To our knowledge, this is the first report of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) outbreak in a saturation diving facility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-284
Number of pages8
JournalUndersea and Hyperbaric Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Cutaneous infection
  • Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus
  • Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE)
  • Saturation diving

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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