Environmental Contamination of Fitness Facilities with S. aureus

Staphylococcus aureus is a common bacterium found in the nose and throat of healthy individuals, and presents risk factors for infection and death. Dalman, et al. (2019) investigated environmental contamination of fitness facilities with S. aureus in order to determine molecular types and antibiotic susceptibility profiles of contaminates that may be transmitted to facility patrons.

Environmental swabs (n = 288) were obtained from several fitness facilities (n = 16) across Northeast Ohio including cross-fit type facilities (n = 4), traditional iron gyms (n = 4), community center-based facilities (n = 5), and hospital-associated facilities (n = 3). Samples were taken from 18 different surfaces at each facility and were processed within 24 h using typical bacteriological methods. Positive isolates were subjected to antibiotic susceptibility testing and molecular characterization (PVL and mecA PCR, and spa typing).

The overall prevalence of S. aureus on environmental surfaces in the fitness facilities was 38.2% (110/288). The most commonly colonized surfaces were the weight ball (62.5%), cable driven curl bar, and CrossFit box (62.5%), as well as the weight plates (56.3%) and treadmill handle (50%). Interestingly, the bathroom levers and door handles were the least contaminated surfaces in both male and female restroom facilities (18.8%). Community gyms (40.0%) had the highest contamination prevalence among sampled surfaces with CrossFit (38.9%), traditional gyms (38.9%), and hospital associated (33.3%) contaminated less frequently, though the differences were not significant (p = 0.875). The top spa types found overall were t008 (12.7%), t267 (10.0%), t160, t282, t338 (all at 5.5%), t012 and t442 (4.5%), and t002 (3.6%). t008 and t002 was found in all fitness facility types accept Crossfit, with t267 (25%), t548, t377, t189 (all 10.7%) the top spa types found within crossfit. All samples were resistant to benzylpenicillin, with community centers having significantly more strains resistant to oxacillin (52.8%), erythromycin (47%), clindamycin (36%), and ciprofloxacin (19%). Overall, 36.3% of isolates were multidrug resistant.

The researchers concluded that all facility types were contaminated by S. aureus and MRSA, and that additional studies are needed to characterize the microbiome structure of surfaces at different fitness facility types and the patrons at these facilities.

Reference: Dalman M, et al. Characterizing the molecular epidemiology of Staphylococcus aureus across and within fitness facility types. BMC Infectious Diseases. 2019;19:69