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J Hosp Infect. 2018 Nov;100(3):e123-e129. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2018.04.003. Epub 2018 Apr 9.

Is there an association between airborne and surface microbes in the critical care environment?

Author information

1
Department of Microbiology, Hairmyres Hospital, NHS Lanarkshire Hospital, NHS Lanarkshire, UK.
2
Department of Critical Care, Hairmyres Hospital, NHS Lanarkshire Hospital, NHS Lanarkshire, UK.
3
Institute for Public Health and Environmental Engineering, School of Civil Engineering, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.
4
Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK; Health Protection Scotland, Glasgow, UK; International Prevention Research Institute, Lyon, France.
5
Department of Microbiology, Hairmyres Hospital, NHS Lanarkshire Hospital, NHS Lanarkshire, UK; School of Applied Sciences, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK. Electronic address: stephanie.dancer@lanarkshire.scot.nhs.uk.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

There are few data and no accepted standards for air quality in the intensive care unit (ICU). Any relationship between airborne pathogens and hospital-acquired infection (HAI) risk in the ICU remains unknown.

AIM:

First, to correlate environmental contamination of air and surfaces in the ICU; second, to examine any association between environmental contamination and ICU-acquired staphylococcal infection.

METHODS:

Patients, air, and surfaces were screened on 10 sampling days in a mechanically ventilated 10-bed ICU for a 10-month period. Near-patient hand-touch sites (N = 500) and air (N = 80) were screened for total colony count and Staphylococcus aureus. Air counts were compared with surface counts according to proposed standards for air and surface bioburden. Patients were monitored for ICU-acquired staphylococcal infection throughout.

FINDINGS:

Overall, 235 of 500 (47%) surfaces failed the standard for aerobic counts (≤2.5 cfu/cm2). Half of passive air samples (20/40: 50%) failed the 'index of microbial air' contamination (2 cfu/9 cm plate/h), and 15/40 (37.5%) active air samples failed the clean air standard (<10 cfu/m3). Settle plate data were closer to the pass/fail proportion from surfaces and provided the best agreement between air parameters and surfaces when evaluating surface benchmark values of 0-20 cfu/cm2. The surface standard most likely to reflect hygiene pass/fail results compared with air was 5 cfu/cm2. Rates of ICU-acquired staphylococcal infection were associated with surface counts per bed during 72h encompassing sampling days (P = 0.012).

CONCLUSION:

Passive air sampling provides quantitative data analogous to that obtained from surfaces. Settle plates could serve as a proxy for routine environmental screening to determine the infection risk in ICU.

KEYWORDS:

Air; Bacterial transmission; Environmental contamination; Hospital environment; Hospital-acquired infection; MRSA; Staphylococcus aureus

PMID:
29649556
DOI:
10.1016/j.jhin.2018.04.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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