Review| Volume 121, P91-104, March 2022

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Is decolonization to prevent Panton–Valentine leukocidin-positive Staphylococcus aureus infection in the population effective? A systematic review

Published:December 28, 2021DOI:


      Panton–Valentine leukocidin (PVL) -producing Staphylococcus aureus is associated with recurrent skin and soft tissue infections and occasionally invasive infections. There is limited evidence to support current public health guidance on decolonization of cases and household contacts. This systematic review (CRD42020189906) investigated the efficacy of decolonization against PVL-positive S. aureus to inform future public health practice. It included studies of cases with PVL-positive infections providing information on the efficacy of decolonization of cases, carriers, or contacts of cases. Studies were assessed for the risk of bias using the GRADE approach and summarized to inform a narrative synthesis. The search identified 20, mostly observational, studies with small samples and lacking control groups. Studies with longer follow-ups found that, while early post-decolonization screening was negative for most individuals, testing over subsequent months identified re-colonization in some. There is no high-quality evidence to show whether decolonization is effective in reducing (re)infection or long-term carriage of PVL-positive S. aureus and the low-quality evidence available indicates it may not be effective in eradicating carriage or reducing future disease. Furthermore, there may be risks associated with decolonization, e.g., potentially increased risk of infection from other microbes, opportunity costs and negative impacts of repeated testing for asymptomatic carriage. Further research is required to better understand what affects the ability of decolonization efforts to reduce risk to cases and their contacts, including strain, host and environmental factors.


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