Published on 25th July 2011
The latest authoritative review of the role played by contaminated surfaces in the transmission of nosocomial pathogens has recently been published. This categorically dispels the apparent widespread view that contaminated surfaces are not important in transmission. It has also provided compelling evidence that proves environmental hygiene is an essential part of any infection control programme.
Leading microbiologists at St Thomas’ Hospital and King’s College London and at world-renowned bio-decontamination specialist Bioquell, have collaborated to produce a comprehensive scientific paper that explores the environmental transmission process. Dr. Jonathan Otter, Dr. Saber Yezli and Prof. Gary French noted that surfaces were now playing a more important part in the epidemic and endemic transmission of the major pathogens linked to healthcare associated infections: C. difficile, VRE, MRSA, A. baumannii, P. aeruginosa and Norovirus.
In the article it was noted that nosocomial pathogens shed by patients can contaminate hospital surfaces at concentrations sufficient for transmission. These pathogens can survive for extended periods and can persist despite attempts to remove them. One other key source of transmission explored was the transference to the hands of healthcare providers and subsequently back to the patients. They also reviewed evidence that improving environmental bio-decontamination helps to bring outbreaks under control and reduce endemic nosocomial pathogen transmission.
Overall they indicated that improvements to environmental hygiene should include measures to improve the efficacy of any cleaning/disinfection process and measures should also be adopted to reduce the shedding of pathogens.
James Salkeld, Head of Healthcare at Bioquell commented, "This review summarises a change in opinion on the role of the environment that has occurred over the last decade. I’m sure that it will be a useful summary for all healthcare professional with an interest in this area of research."
The research paper ‘The role played by contaminated surfaces in the transmission of nosocomial pathogens’ by Otter et al is available in Infection Control and hospital epidemiology, July 2011, Vol. 32, No7, pages 687-699. http://www.jstor.org/pss/10.1086/660363