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J Hosp Infect. 1992 Mar;20(3):209-15.

The housefly (Musca domestica) as a carrier of pathogenic microorganisms in a hospital environment.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi.


Houseflies have long been regarded as potential carriers of microorganisms. Since pathogenic microorganisms are widespread in the hospital environment, there is abundant opportunity for flies to become contaminated and, in turn, to contaminate the patient environment. In the present study, an attempt was made to isolate and identify pathogenic bacteria, fungi and parasites from the housefly Musca domestica collected in the surgical ward of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences Hospital and also in a remote residential area located 5 km from the hospital. A total of 113 flies were collected: 65 from a surgical ward (test) and 48 from a residential area for comparison. Ten genera of bacteria were isolated from the test group of flies compared with nine from the control group. In primary isolations, it was observed that the load of bacteria carried by the test group of flies was significantly more (P less than 0.001) than for the control flies. Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Enterococcus faecalis and viridans streptococci were isolated only from the test flies. The isolation rate of Staphylococcus aureus was significantly higher (P less than 0.001) in test houseflies than in the control houseflies. There was no significant difference in isolation of parasitic ova and cysts from test and control houseflies. Candida spp. were isolated in almost equal numbers from both groups of houseflies, yet none of these was Candida albicans. Houseflies therefore may act as vectors of potentially pathogenic bacteria in a hospital environment.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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