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.

Staphylococcus aureus is a commensal that can also cause invasive infection. Reports suggest that nasal cocolonization occurs rarely, but the resources required to sequence multiple colonies have precluded its large-scale investigation. A staged protocol was developed to maximize detection of mixed-spa-type colonization while minimizing laboratory resources using 3,197 S. aureus-positive samples from a longitudinal study of healthy individuals in Oxfordshire, United Kingdom. Initial typing of pooled material from each sample identified a single unambiguous strain in 89.6% of samples. Twelve single-colony isolates were typed from samples producing ambiguous initial results. All samples could be resolved into one or more spa types using the protocol. Cocolonization point prevalence was 3.4 to 5.8% over 24 months of follow-up in 360 recruitment-positives. However, 18% were cocolonized at least once, most only transiently. Cocolonizing spa types were completely unrelated in 56% of samples. Of 272 recruitment-positives returning ≥12 swabs, 166 (61%) carried S. aureus continuously but only 106 (39%) carried the same single spa type without any cocolonization; 31 (11%) switched spa type and 29 (11%) had transient cocarriage. S. aureus colonization is dynamic even in long-term carriers. New unrelated cocolonizing strains could increase invasive disease risk, and ongoing within-host evolution could increase invasive potential, possibilities that future studies should explore.

Original publication




Journal article


J Clin Microbiol

Publication Date





1192 - 1200


Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Carrier State, Coinfection, Female, Healthy Volunteers, Humans, Longitudinal Studies, Male, Middle Aged, Molecular Typing, Prevalence, Staphylococcal Infections, Staphylococcus aureus, United Kingdom, Young Adult