Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

In The Netherlands, efforts to control meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in hospitals have been largely successful due to stringent screening of patients on admission and isolation of those that fall into defined risk categories. However, Dutch hospitals are not free of MRSA, and a considerable number of cases are found that do not belong to any of the risk categories. Some of these may be due to undetected nosocomial transmission, whereas others may be introduced from unknown reservoirs.Identifying multi-institutional clusters of MRSA isolates to estimate the contribution of potential unobserved reservoirs in The Netherlands.We applied a clustering algorithm that combines time, place, and genetics to routine data available for all MRSA isolates submitted to the Dutch Staphylococcal Reference Laboratory between 2008 and 2011 in order to map the geo-temporal distribution of MRSA clonal lineages in The Netherlands.Of the 2966 isolates lacking obvious risk factors, 579 were part of geo-temporal clusters, whereas 2387 were classified as MRSA of unknown origin (MUOs). We also observed marked differences in the proportion of isolates that belonged to geo-temporal clusters between specific multi-locus variable number of tandem repeat analysis (MLVA) clonal complexes, indicating lineage-specific transmissibility. The majority of clustered isolates (74%) were present in multi-institutional clusters.The frequency of MRSA of unknown origin among patients lacking obvious risk factors is an indication of a largely undefined extra-institutional but genetically highly diverse reservoir. Efforts to understand the emergence and spread of high-risk clones require the pooling of routine epidemiological information and typing data into central databases.

Original publication




Journal article


The Journal of hospital infection

Publication Date





366 - 374


University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands; National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Bilthoven, The Netherlands. Electronic address:


Humans, Staphylococcal Infections, Cross Infection, Cluster Analysis, Netherlands, Genetic Variation, Disease Transmission, Infectious, Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Molecular Epidemiology, Molecular Typing, Epidemiological Monitoring, Spatio-Temporal Analysis, Surveys and Questionnaires