Susceptibility to chlorhexidine amongst multidrug-resistant clinical isolates of Staphylococcus epidermidis from bloodstream infections

Karolin Hijazi, Indrani Mukhopadhya, Felicity Abbott, Kathleen Milne, Zaaima J. Al-Jabri, Marco R. Oggioni, Ian M. Gould

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The emergence of Staphylococcus isolates with reduced susceptibility to chlorhexidine is being increasingly reported. We present an update to a previous report showing the continuing efficacy of chlorhexidine-based infection control measures against Staphylococcus aureus over 6 years. In this study, qacA/B genes were screened in Staphylococcus isolates collected over another 6 years in the same intensive care unit in Scotland where chlorhexidine baths form an essential component of long-term control of nosocomial infections. Consistent with our previous study, we report minimal presence of qacA/B in S. aureus strains from screening samples and bacteraemia patients but the new finding of a high proportion of qacA/B carriage in Staphylococcus epidermidis associated with reduced susceptibility to chlorhexidine. S. epidermidis isolates positive for qacA/B were clonally diverse, although 65% of isolates belonged to the multidrug-resistant (MDR) clone ST2. These findings raise concerns in relation to the selection of MDR strains by chlorhexidine and are important in the context of recent evidence emphasising the benefits of targeting bloodstream infections associated with coagulase-negative staphylococci.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-90
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Antimicrobial Agents
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2016



  • Chlorhexidine baths
  • Intensive care unit
  • Multidrug resistance
  • qac genes
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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