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Beware Biofilm! Dry biofilms containing bacterial pathogens on multiple healthcare surfaces; a multicentre study

Ledwoch, Katarzyna, Dancer, S.J., Otter, J.A., Kerr, Kimone, Roposte, Diane, Weiser, Rebecca, Rushton, Laura, Mahenthiralingam, Eshwar, Muir, Duncan and Maillard, Jean-Yves 2018. Beware Biofilm! Dry biofilms containing bacterial pathogens on multiple healthcare surfaces; a multicentre study. Journal of Hospital Infection 100 (3) , e47-e56. 10.1016/j.jhin.2018.06.028

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Background Wet biofilms associated with medical devices have been widely studied and their link with healthcare associated infections (HCAIs) is well recognised. Little attention has been paid to the presence of dry biofilms on environmental surfaces in healthcare settings. Aim To investigate the occurrence, prevalence, and diversity of dry biofilms on hospital surfaces. Method 61 terminally cleaned items were received from three different UK hospitals. The presence of dry biofilm was investigated using culture-based methods and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Bacterial diversity within biofilms was investigated using RISA-PCR and next generation sequencing. Findings Multi-species dry biofilms were recovered from 95% of 61 samples. Abundance and complexity of dry biofilms were confirmed by SEM. All biofilms harboured Gram-positive bacteria including pathogens associated with HCAIs; 58% of samples grew meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Dry biofilms had similar physical composition regardless of the type of items sampled or the ward from which the samples originated. There were differences observed in the dominance of particular species: dry biofilms from two hospitals contained mostly staphylococcal DNA, whereas more Bacillus spp. DNA was found on surfaces from the third hospital. Conclusion The presence of dry biofilms harbouring bacterial pathogens is virtually universal on commonly used items in healthcare settings. The role of dry biofilms in spreading HCAIs may be underestimated. The risk may be further exacerbated by inefficient cleaning and disinfection practices for hospital surfaces.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Earth and Ocean Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0195-6701
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 July 2018
Date of Acceptance: 26 June 2018
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 07:57

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