Researchers Explore Bacterial Contamination of Frequently Touched Objects

Objects frequently touched by patients and healthcare workers in hospitals harbor potential pathogens and may act as source of infectious agents. This study by Bhatta, et al. (2018) aimed to determine the bacterial contamination of common hospital objects frequently touched by patients, visitors and healthcare workers.

A total of 232 samples were collected from various sites like surface of biometric attendance devices, elevator buttons, door handles, staircase railings, telephone sets and water taps. Isolation, identification and antibiotic susceptibility testing of the isolates was performed by standard microbiological techniques. Biofilm forming ability of the S. aureus isolates was tested by a microtitre plate method.

A total of 232 samples were collected and 219 bacterial isolates were recovered from 181 samples. Staphylococcus aureus was the most common bacterial isolate (44/219). Majority of S. aureus isolates were recovered from elevator buttons, biometric attendance devices and door handles. Among the S. aureus isolates, 36.3% (16/44) were methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) while remaining were methicillin sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA). Out of 44 S. aureus isolates, 12 (29.5%) were multidrug-resistant and 14 (31.8%) were biofilm producers. The majority of MRSA isolates 62.5% (10/16) were biofilm producers. Acinetobacter was the most common Gram-negative isolate followed by E coli and Pseudomonas species.

High bacterial contamination of frequently touched objects with variety of potential pathogens and normal flora was detected. S. aureus was the most common bacterial isolate. Biofilm-forming ability offers additional survival advantage to the organisms on these objects. The researchers say their study highlights the need of improved hand hygiene among healthcare workers and regular cleaning/disinfection of sites of frequent public contact.

Reerence: Bhatta DR, Hamal D, et al. Bacterial contamination of frequently touched objects in a tertiary care hospital of Pokhara, Nepal: how safe are our hands? Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control. 2018;7:97