A randomized, controlled trial of chlorhexidine-soaked cloths to reduce methicillin-resistant and methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus carriage prevalence in an urban jail

Michael Z. David, Jane D. Siegel, Janet Henderson, Greg Leos, Kaming Lo, Jerry Iwuora, Esmaeil Porsa, L. Philip Schumm, Susan Boyle-Vavra, Robert S. Daum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess an intervention to limit community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) dissemination.

Design: Randomized, controlled trial.

Setting: County Jail, Dallas, Texas.

Participants: A total of 4,196 detainees in 68 detention tanks.

Methods: Tanks were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups: in group 1, detainees received cloths that contained chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) to clean their entire skin surface 3 times per week for 6 months; group 2 received identical cloths containing only water; and group 3 received no skin treatment. During the study, all newly arrived detainees were invited to enroll. Nares and hand cultures were obtained at baseline and from all current enrollees at 2 and 6 months.

Results: At baseline, S. aureus was isolated from 41.2% and MRSA from 8.0% (nares and/or hand) of 947 enrollees. The average participation rate was 47%. At 6 months, MRSA carriage was 10.0% in group 3 and 8.7% in group 1 tanks (estimated absolute risk reduction [95% confidence interval (CI)], 1.4% [−4.8% to 7.1%]; P =.655). At 6 months, carriage of any S. aureus was 51.1% in group 3, 40.7% in group 1 (absolute risk reduction [95% CI], 10.4% [0.01%–20.1%]; P=.047), and 42.8% (absolute risk reduction [95% CI], 8.3% [−1.4% to 18.0%]; P=.099) in group 2.

Conclusions: Skin cleaning with CHG for 6 months in detainees, compared with no intervention, significantly decreased carriage of S. aureus, and use of water cloths produced a nonsignificant but similar decrease. A nonsignificant decrease in MRSA carriage was found with CHG cloth use.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier NCT00785200

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1466-1473
Number of pages8
JournalInfection Control and Hospital Epidemiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Epidemiology
  • Infectious Diseases

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