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Year : 2003  |  Volume : 21  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 291

Survival of nosocomial bacteria on hospital fabrics

Department of Microbiology, Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore - 575 001, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Department of Microbiology, Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore - 575 001, Karnataka, India

How to cite this article:
Chacko L, Jose S, Isac A, Bhat K G. Survival of nosocomial bacteria on hospital fabrics. Indian J Med Microbiol 2003;21:291

How to cite this URL:
Chacko L, Jose S, Isac A, Bhat K G. Survival of nosocomial bacteria on hospital fabrics. Indian J Med Microbiol [serial online] 2003 [cited 2021 Mar 5];21:291. Available from:

Dear Editor,
Infections caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria are a growing concern in hospitals. The hospital environment may play a significant role in the transmission of microorganisms.[1] Wearing uniform is an established practice in hospitals.[2],[3] Microbial contamination of health care personnel uniforms can occur.[3] The degree of contamination and extent of microbial survival may be crucial. We systematically examined the survival of nosocomial bacteria on hospital fabrics.
Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis,  Escherichia More Details coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolated from clinical specimens or hospital environment were grown on nutrient agar slope and colonies were emulsified in sterile saline to match McFarland 0.5 standard. Autoclaved swatches (1 cm2) of cotton (clothing), polyester (privacy drape) and 60% cotton - 40% polyester (lab coat) were separately inoculated with 10 L of bacterial suspension and kept in sterile petridish at room temperature. Everyday, a single swatch was put into a tube of nutrient broth and incubated at 370C for 48 hours. Bacteria were considered dead if two consecutive swatches were negative.
All bacteria survived for a week or more [Table - 1]. The extent of survival was dependent on kind of bacteria and fabric.
The results indicate that nosocomial bacteria can survive for many days on fabrics. The survival time observed by us is longer than that reported in a previous study.[4] This could be due to higher inoculum used by us. The effect of inoculum concentration on cell viability is dependent on the concept of cryptic growth in which bacteria in a nutrient limiting condition can live on nutrients from dying cells.[5] Further, gram negative bacilli were not included in the previous study.[4] One can easily postulate that contaminated fabrics in the hospital could act as fomites in the transmission of infectious agents. Frequent washing, disinfection and changing of hospital garments may play an important role in the prevention of transmission of infections. 

 ~ References Top

1.Al Barrak A, McLeod J, Embil J, Thompson G, Aoki F, Nicolle L. Putting out the fire: extinguishing an outbreak methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) on a burn unit. Am J Infect Control 1998;26:189.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Wong D, Nye K, Hollis P. Microbial flora on doctors' white coats. BMJ 1991;303:1602-1604.   Back to cited text no. 2    
3.Perry C, Marshall R, Jones E. Bacterial contamination of uniforms. J Hosp Infect 2001;48:238-241.   Back to cited text no. 3    
4.Neely AN, Maley MP. Survival of enterococci and Staphylococci on hospital fabrics and plastic. J Clin Microbiol 2000;38:724-726.   Back to cited text no. 4    
5.Watson SP, E Clements MO, Foster SJ. Characterization of the starvation- survival response of Staphylococcus aureus. J Bacteriol 1998;180:1750-1758.   Back to cited text no. 5    
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2004 - Indian Journal of Medical Microbiology
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow

Online since April 2001, new site since 1st August '04