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MRSA study demonstrates need for frequent hand washing and environmental disinfection in health care settings

A major cause of hospital-acquired infections can persist for days and even weeks on environmental surfaces found in healthcare settings, including bed linens, computer keyboard covers and acrylic fingernails, according to research presented today at the 105th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a major cause of hospital-acquired infections in the United States. Staphylococcal infections can cause conditions ranging from mild skin infections to serious surgical wound infections, pneumonia or blood infections.

"The potential of MRSA to be transferred from person to person, in large part, depends on its ability to survive on environmental surfaces," says researcher Kris Owens of Ecolab, Inc. in Mendota Heights, Minnesota.

For the study, two strains of MRSA were inoculated in triplicate onto coupons made of bed linen, keyboard covers and acrylic fingernails. At selected times over 8 weeks, the coupons were subcultured and surviving bacteria were counted. MRSA survivors remained at detectable levels for 8 weeks on acrylic fingernails, 6 weeks on computer keyboard covers and 5 days on bed linen. "The results of this study clearly demonstrate the need for frequent hand washing and environmental disinfection in health care settings," says Owens.


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