Multicentre trial supports use of topical antibiotic to eliminate Staph colonization in NICU babies

A team of doctors led by Karen L. Kotloff, M.D., University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM), Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health (CVD), has performed a clinical trial involving multiple hospitals that tested the effectiveness of applying a topical antibiotic known as mupirocin for prevention of Staphylococcus aureus (SA) infection in babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
In this study, between 10 and 45 percent of infants became colonized with SA in the eight NICUs across the country that participated in this study. A 5-day course of mupirocin was applied to the skin and nasal passages of the infants in the NICU who tested positive for SA. The results indicate mupirocin is safe and highly effective in eliminating SA from the skin and nasal passages of these infants. More than 90 percent of the treated infants tested negative for SA after treatment, indicating effective “decolonization” in response to mupirocin. This is the first randomized multicentre clinical trial to demonstrate the effectiveness and safety of mupirocin in infants, including those born prematurely, and to show that this treatment reduced colonization by both SA that are susceptible to commonly used antibiotics (MSSA) and those that are not (MRSA).
SA are bacteria that are commonly present on the skin and mucous membranes without causing disease. When bacteria live in the body without causing disease, this is referred to as colonization. Infants who become colonized with SA while hospitalized are at increased risk of developing life-threatening infections. Therefore, this treatment is likely to reduce clinical infection in infants. The effect of a course of mupirocin lasted for at least two to three weeks.
“Staph aureus is a leading cause of sepsis in young children admitted to the NICU. Sepsis, which is systemic infection, can be fatal in infants. Thus, preventing these infections is very important in managing risk for babies in the NICU who are fragile and struggling with multiple medical problems,” said Dr. Kotloff. This is the first study to test the safety and efficacy of mupirocin use in the NICU using a randomized controlled trial.
University of Maryland School of Medicine