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J Clin Microbiol. 1997 Jun;35(6):1394-7.

Survival of Acinetobacter baumannii on dry surfaces.

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  • 1Institute for Hygiene, Free University Berlin, Germany.


Acinetobacter spp. have frequently been reported to be the causative agents of hospital outbreaks. The circumstances of some outbreaks demonstrated the long survival of Acinetobacter in a dry, inanimate environment. In laboratory experiments, we compared the abilities of five Acinetobacter baumannii strains, three Acinetobacter sp. strains from the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC), one Escherichia coli ATCC strain, and one Enterococcus faecium ATCC strain to survive under dry conditions. Bacterial solutions of the 10 strains were inoculated onto four different material samples (ceramic, polyvinyl chloride, rubber, and stainless steel) and stored under defined conditions. We investigated the bacterial counts of the material samples immediately after inoculation, after drying, and after 4 h, 1 day, and 1, 2, 4, 8, and 16 weeks of storage. A statistical model was used to distribute the 40 resulting curves among four types of survival curves. The type of survival curve was significantly associated with the bacterial strain but not with the material. The ability of the A. baumannii strains to survive under dry conditions varied greatly and correlated well with the source of the strain. Strains isolated from dry sources survived better than those isolated from wet sources. An outbreak strain that had caused hospital-acquired respiratory tract infections survived better than the strains from wet sources, but not as well as strains from dry sources. Resistance to dry conditions may promote the transmissibility of a strain, but it is not sufficient to make a strain an epidemic one. However, in the case of an outbreak, sources of Acinetobacter must be expected in the dry environment.

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