Fighting Pathogens in a Children’s Hospital: Two Posters at APIC Conference


Investigators look for and find MRSA and C difficil widespread on floors, especially in patient rooms, and MRSA inside NICU isolette beds.

Children are especially vulnerable to pathogens, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or Clostridioides difficile. In a children’s hospital, however, 2 investigators have found both MRSA and C difficil on the floors, especially in the patient rooms. Even later in the 10-month study, with additional environmental hygiene practices, the 2 pathogens were still abundant.

Henry Spratt, Jr, Ph D, professor at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga, Tennessee, and David Levine, PT, PhD, DPT, CCRP, FAPTA, board-certified clinical specialist in orthopedic physical therapy emeritus, professor, and Walter M. Cline Chair of Excellence in physical therapy, Department of Physical Therapy, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, sat down with Infection Control Today® (ICT®) to discuss the posters they presented at the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) 2022 Annual Conference, held June 13-15, 2022, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The titles of their posters were “Bacterial Contamination of Floors in a Hematology/Oncology Unit in a Children’s Hospital” and “Surveillance of Staphylococci Presence in and Around Neonate Isolette Beds in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of a Children’s Hospital.”

In this first of a 2-part series, Spratt and Levine give a brief description of their work together and each of the posters.

In the first study, Spratt said that they “found that generally through the unit, both of those pathogens are widespread on the floors, and in most cases, the higher concentration [was] in the patient room. So we did patient rooms versus corridors outside and even going out to the door leading into the unit, where you're going out into the general hospital. We found high levels both of those [pathogens]. In all cases over… a 10 month study, we did a weekly sample. It was remarkable; the levels were down and particularly because that unit with the children who are on chemo, they are highly sensitive to any sort of pathogen. [The hospital] have extra added environmental services, but it seems to not have a major impact.”

Levine agreed. “When we look back at our data from the studies, we've known for a long time floors are a reservoir for a lot of different bacteria. Primarily, in this case, that's what we're looking at, and how difficult it is for any facility to really keep floors clean, especially in high traffic areas. Without getting into super specifics of different bacteria, floors are really tough. There are all kinds of different interventions people have looked at, like antimicrobial floors, which are still kind of a new thing. We're wondering how much they really help because of the traffic that people bring in and out. But maybe that's a great intervention down the road.”

About the second poster, Spratt told ICT®, “the second study was done exclusively in the neonatal intensive care unit hospital. We've done studies in that unit for 7 years now. We were asked to come back and do a second study after they had instituted some changes from a study we did back in 2015 and 2016. We did again; this time to start off with a general overview of the whole unit. And we found that some of the measures, particularly for reduction of the dust that would be transported to the return air ducts, highly effective. What they did is highly effective at reducing MRSA and other interferences, but mainly MRSA species of Staph."

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