Data published in Infection and Immunity show that Streptococcus pneumoniae and S. pyogenes live on surfaces for longer than previously thought.
Four of five stuffed animals in a day care center tested positive for S. pneumoniae,and several surfaces, such as cribs, tested positive for S. pyogenes. According to a press release, the surfaces were tested before the day care center opened for the day, several hours since last contact with humans.
“These findings should make us more cautious about bacteria in the environment since they change our ideas about how these particular bacteria are spread. This is the first paper to directly investigate that these bacteria can survive well on various surfaces, including hands, and potentially spread between individuals,” study researcher Anders Hakansson, PhD, of the University of Buffalo, said in the release.
Further research found that month-old biofilm of S. pneumoniaeand S. pyogenestaken from surfacescolonized in mice and survived on human hands, books and toys in a day care center for hours.
“In all of these cases, we found that these pathogens can survive for long periods outside a human host,” Hakansson said. “Commonly handled objects that are contaminated with these biofilm bacteria could act as reservoirs of bacteria for hours, weeks or months, spreading potential infections to individuals who come in contact with them. If it turns out that this type of spread is substantial, then the same protocols that are now used for preventing the spread of other bacteria will need to be implemented especially for people working with children and in health care settings.”