Research Article| Volume 65, SUPPLEMENT 2, 50-54, June 2007

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Environmental contamination makes an important contribution to hospital infection

  • John M. Boyce
    John M. Boyce, MD. Hospital of Saint Raphael, 1450 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT 06511, USA
    Infectious Diseases Section, Hospital of Saint Raphael, New Haven, USA

    Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA
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      Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) are capable of surviving for days to weeks on environmental surfaces in healthcare facilities. Environmental surfaces frequently touched by healthcare workers are commonly contaminated in the rooms of patients colonized or infected with MRSA or VRE. A number of studies have documented that healthcare workers may contaminate their hands or gloves by touching contaminated environmental surfaces, and that hands or gloves become contaminated with numbers of organisms that are likely to result in transmission to patients. Pathogens may also be transferred directly from contaminated surfaces to susceptible patients. There is an increasing body of evidence that cleaning or disinfection of the environment can reduce transmission of healthcare-associated pathogens. Because routine cleaning of equipment items and other high-touch surfaces does not always remove pathogens from contaminated surfaces, improved methods of disinfecting the hospital environment are needed. Preliminary studies suggest that hydrogen peroxide vapour technology deserves further evaluation as a method for decontamination of the environment in healthcare settings.


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