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Panton Valentine Leukocidin (PVL) positive Staphylococcus aureus

Please click the frequently asked questions below for further information and IPC precautions required:

  • What is PVL?

    Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium that commonly colonises human skin and mucosa.

    Normally the bacteria cause no harm and those colonised with S. aureus remain asymptomatic. S. aureus can however lead to serious infections when bacteria spread to the bloodstream, this may occur when then skin is broken, for example following surgery or a medical procedure. S. aureus may cause a range of illness including skin and wound infections, infected eczema, abscesses or joint infections, endocarditis, pneumonia, osteomyelitis, urinary tract infections and bacteraemia.

    Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) is a cytotoxin produced by some strains of Staphylococcus aureus that causes leukocyte destruction and tissue necrosis.

  • Where are the most common places to detect PVL?

    PVL is commonly found in the nose, back of the throat, armpits, skin folds of the groin and in wounds. The only way to know if you have PVL is by sending a swab or a sample, such as urine, to the hospital laboratory for testing.

  • Why is this information important?

    If NIAS staff are aware that the patient has a previous history or a current PVL infection / colonisation, then this should be communicated to EAC / NEAC and the receiving unit when transferring the patient to ensure effective patient care and management.

  • How is it spread?

    It can spread between patients either through contact with a patient known to be colonised or by touching the environment that has been occupied by a patient with PVL e.g. patient equipment, stretchers, hand rails, straps etc.

    It can also be spread through staff’s hands if staff do not adhere to the 5 moments of Hand Hygiene (HH) using the 7 step technique. It is also essential that staff use PPE appropriately ensuring that gloves are used and changed appropriately with HH. This will help protect both staff and patients from transmission.

  • IPC Precautions
    • Contact Precautions should be used.
    • Hand Hygiene should be completed as per the 5 moments in line with usual practice.
    • Eye protection should always be risk assessed and used with any patient where there is a risk of splashes including spitting and productive coughing.
    • Gloves and Aprons should be worn.
    • The patient should ideally be transported via ambulance (eg. PCS) with no other patients present where possible. Individual cases can be discussed with the IPC team and a risk assessment can be made.
    • Laundry should be treated as contaminated, placed into an alginate bag and placed into a red laundry bag.
  • What cleaning is required?

    All equipment and the ambulance should have an in-between patient clean, paying particular attention to touch points.

  • Do staff need any prophylaxis or follow up?

    No staff follow up required.