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Coagulase-negative staphylococci (CoNS) are now recognized as the aetiological agents of an important range of infections in humans. Most developed countries have reported an increase in CoNS infections in hospitalized patients that are resistant to meticillin and other antibiotics. Staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec (SCCmec) typing is essential for understanding the molecular epidemiology of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus strains. SCCmec elements are currently classified into types I to VI based on the characteristics of the mec and ccr gene complexes and are further classified into subtypes according to their 'junkyard DNA' region. We evaluated the distribution of SCCmec types in CoNS from patients attending the Hospital de Clinicas de Porto Alegre over the period August 2004-December 2005. Among the 129 bloodstream isolates, 36 (27.9 %) harboured SCCmec type I, 4 (3.0 %) harboured SCCmec type II, 67 (52 %) harboured SCCmec type III, 1 (0.8 %) harboured SCCmec type IV and 4 (3.0 %) harboured SCCmec types I and III. Seventeen isolates were not typable. Identification of CoNS at the species level indicated that Staphylococcus epidermidis was the most common species, with 87 isolates, followed by Staphylococcus haemolyticus (15), Staphylococcus hominis (13), Staphylococcus capitis (12) and Staphylococcus sciuri (1). SCCmec type III was the most prevalent among isolates of S. epidermidis (52 %). Among these strains, 30 (23 %) harboured a modified SCCmec type III which contained an additional dcs region in comparison with regular type III. SCCmec type III was also highly prevalent (75 %) among S. capitis isolates. The predominant SCCmec type found among S. haemolyticus isolates was type I. However, all four isolates harbouring SCCmec type II belonged to S. haemolyticus. Our results indicate that SCCmec type III was the most prevalent among the CoNS. Isolates with SCCmec type III were more resistant to non-[beta]-lactam antimicrobials than isolates harbouring SCCmec types I, II and IV, although the increase in resistance was statistically significant only for clindamycin (P=0.021), rifampicin (P=0.010) and levofloxacin (P=0.005).

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