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Pathogens can survive for extended periods when incorporated into biofilm on dry hospital surfaces (ie, dry-surface biofilm, DSB). Bacteria within biofilm are protected from desiccation and have increased tolerance to cleaning agents and disinfectants.
We hypothesized that gloved hands of healthcare personnel (HCP) become contaminated with DSB bacteria and hence may transmit bacteria associated with healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).
Staphylococcus aureus DSB was grown in vitro on coupons in a bioreactor over 12 days with periodic nutrition interspersed with long periods of dehydration. Each coupon had ~107 DSB bacterial cells. Transmission was tested with nitrile, latex, and surgical gloves by gripping DSB-covered coupons then pressing finger tips onto a sterile horse blood agar surface for up to 19 consecutive touches and counting the number of colony-forming units (CFU) transferred. Coupons were immersed in 5% neutral detergent to simulate cleaning, and the experiment was repeated.
Bacterial cells were readily transmitted by all 3 types of gloves commonly used by HCP. Surprisingly, sufficient S. aureus to cause infection were transferred from 1 DSB touch up to 19 consecutive touches. Also, 6 times more bacteria were transferred by nitrile and surgical gloves than to latex gloves (P <.001). Treating the DSB with 5% neutral detergent increased the transmission rate of DSB bacteria 10-fold.
Staphylococcus aureus incorporated into environmental DSB and covered by extracellular polymeric substances readily contaminates gloved hands and can be transferred to another surface. These results confirm the possibility that DSB contributes to HAI acquisition.
To assess the efficacy of a standard cleaning and sterilization protocol employed during reuse of cardiac electrophysiology catheters on the infectivity of duck hepatitis B virus (DHBV; a surrogate for human hepatitis B virus), bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV; a surrogate for human hepatitis B virus), and human Coxsackie type B3 virus (CB3).
Public health virology laboratory.
Studies were performed on the distal, electrode-containing segments of 120 electrophysiology catheters previously used in up to 10 clinical procedures. Catheter segments were immersed for 1 hour in blood infected with high titers of DHBV, BVDV, or CB3. After air drying for 2 hours, subgroups of 8 catheters were subjected to no treatment, washing in general-purpose detergent, washing in enzyme cleaner, sterilization in ethylene oxide, or the full protocol of sequential detergent-enzyme cleaner-ethylene oxide exposure. Presence of residual virus was assessed by nucleic acid detection and infectivity studies.
DHBV nucleic acid was detected on catheters after individual steps and the full protocol, whereas BVDV and CB3 nucleic acids were detected after individual steps but not the full protocol. These findings were associated with the presence of infectious DHBV and CB3, but not BVDV, on catheters after washing in detergent or enzyme cleaner. However, ethylene oxide alone or the full protocol reduced infectivity of all three viruses to undetectable levels.
These experimental studies provide strong evidence that appropriate cleaning and sterilization of reused electrophysiology catheters inactivates blood-borne viruses such as hepatitis B and C and Coxsackie type B3.
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