Tea Tree Oils Effective Against MRSA

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2000 APR 18 - (NewsRx.com) --

In a recent pilot study researchers examined the clinical efficacy of tea tree oil in the eradication of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

They found a combination of tea tree oil products was more effective than mupirocin and triclosan.

"The emergence of mupirocin-resistant MRSA potentially compromises our ability to eradicate the carrier state and alternative treatment agents have been suggested," reported M.L. Caelli and colleagues from the University of Newcastle and other institutions in Australia.

The researchers conducted the pilot study at John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, NSW, Australia. Thirty adult inpatients participated in the study between December 1997 and August 1998. The participants were all either colonized or infected with MRSA.

Patients were divided into two groups. The intervention care (IC) group received a 5% tea tree oil nasal ointment and a 2% tea tree oil body wash. The routine care (RC) group received mupirocin nasal ointment and triclosan body wash. The treatment continued for three days in both groups.

Through screening at 48 and 96 hours after the end of treatment, researchers found the number of patients infected was similar between the two groups, 6/15 IC vs. 8/15 RC.

"Infected participants also received IV Vancomycin. Fifty percent (15/30) of participants successfully completed the initial treatment regimen," reported researchers.

Caelli et al. presented their study at the 4th Decennial International Conference on Nosocomial and Healthcare-Associated Infections, held in Atlanta, Georgia. The study was titled, "Tea Tree Oil as an Alternative Topical Decolonisation Agent for Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus."

The researchers concluded: In this pilot study, a combination of tea tree oil products performed better than mupirocin and triclosan, although the numbers of participants was too small for the difference to be statistically significant. These results do suggest, however, larger studies are warranted.

Key points reported in this study are:

* Treatment for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) consisted of 5% tea tree oil nasal ointment and a 2% tea tree oil body wash

* Tea tree oil appeared to work better than mupirocin and triclosan

* Results warrant larger study

This article was prepared by Medical Letter on the CDC & FDA editors from staff and other reports.

Copyright 2000, Medical Letter on the CDC & FDA via NewsRx.com.