Disclosures: Wolfensberger reports receiving travel grants from MSD unrelated to this study. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
September 14, 2021
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MRSA contamination in hospital rooms depends on activity level

Disclosures: Wolfensberger reports receiving travel grants from MSD unrelated to this study. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
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Environmental MRSA contamination of hospital rooms likely depends on patient activity and level of colonization, researchers reported in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

“We wanted to learn more about the temporal dynamics or MRSA contamination of hands and environment in patients colonized or infected with MRSA,” Aline Wolfensberger, MD, attending physician in the division of infectious diseases and hospital epidemiology at the University Hospital Zurich, told Healio. “We already know from several studies that the patient environment is often contaminated with MRSA, but we did not have a lot of information about how long it takes to contaminate the room and what are drivers of contamination.”

Source: Adobe Stock.
After 90 minutes, 27% of MRSA patients’ hands and 6% of tested environmental sites were contaminated with MRSA. Source: Adobe Stock.

Wolfensberger and colleagues conducted a real-life microbiological evaluation of environmental MRSA contamination in hospital rooms in relation to recent patient activity in two hospitals one in Zurich and one in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

They sampled the groin, axilla, nares and dominant hands of 10 patients and six environmental high-touch surfaces in the patients’ rooms at baseline and cultured patient hands and high-touch surfaces three more times at 90-minute intervals. They assessed patient activity through interviews at the Zurich hospital and video footage at the hospital in Ann Arbor.

Overall, the study enrolled 10 patients colonized or infected with MRSA and collected 40 hand and 240 environmental samples.

At baseline, 30% of hands and 20% of high-touch surfaces tested positive for MRSA, the researchers reported. At follow-up intervals, eight (27%) of 30 patient hands and 10 (6%) of 180 environmental sites were positive. According to the study, the activity of the patient explained seven of the 10 environmental contaminations, whereas patients with higher contamination pressure scores showed a trend toward higher environmental contamination.

“MRSA contamination of the patient hand and the patient room of a MRSA-positive patient is highly dynamic and probably depends on how active the patient is and how many of his/her body sites are colonized with MRSA,” Wolfensberger said. “This finding, if confirmed by a study including a larger sample size of patients, might help to identify patients who do ‘spread’ MRSA more easily or often than others.”