Short-term increase in prevalence of nasopharyngeal carriage of macrolide-resistant Staphylococcus aureus following mass drug administration with azithromycin for trachoma control.

17 Mar 2017
Bojang E, Jafali J, Perreten V, Hart J, Harding-Esch EM, Sillah A, Mabey DC, Holland MJ, Bailey RL, Roca A, Burr SE.


Mass drug administration (MDA) with azithromycin is a corner-stone of trachoma control however it may drive the emergence of antimicrobial resistance. In a cluster-randomized trial (Clinical trial gov NCT00792922), we compared the reduction in the prevalence of active trachoma in communities that received three annual rounds of MDA to that in communities that received a single treatment round. We used the framework of this trial to carry out an opportunistic study to investigate if the increased rounds of treatment resulted in increased prevalence of nasopharyngeal carriage of macrolide-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Three cross-sectional surveys were conducted in two villages receiving three annual rounds of MDA (3 × treatment arm). Surveys were conducted immediately before the third round of MDA (CSS-1) and at one (CSS-2) and six (CSS-3) months after MDA. The final survey also included six villages that had received only one round of MDA 30 months previously (1 × treatment arm).


In the 3 × treatment arm, a short-term increase in prevalence of S. aureus carriage was seen following MDA from 24.6% at CSS-1 to 38.6% at CSS-2 (p < 0.001). Prevalence fell to 8.8% at CSS-3 (p < 0.001). A transient increase was also seen in prevalence of carriage of azithromycin resistant (AzmR) strains from 8.9% at CSS-1 to 34.1% (p < 0.001) in CSS-2 and down to 7.3% (p = 0.417) in CSS-3. A similar trend was observed for prevalence of carriage of macrolide-inducible-clindamycin resistant (iMLSB) strains. In CSS-3, prevalence of carriage of resistant strains was higher in the 3 × treatment arm than in the 1 × treatment (AzmR 7.3% vs. 1.6%, p = 0.010; iMLSB 5.8% vs. 0.8%, p < 0.001). Macrolide resistance was attributed to the presence of msr and erm genes.


Three annual rounds of MDA with azithromycin were associated with a short-term increase in both the prevalence of nasopharyngeal carriage of S. aureus and prevalence of carriage of AzmR and iMLSB S. aureus.