Little is known about the short-term dynamics of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) transmission between patients and their immediate environment. We conducted a real-life microbiological evaluation of environmental MRSA contamination in hospital rooms in relation to recent patient activity.
Observational pilot study.
Two hospitals, hospital 1 in Zurich, Switzerland, and hospital 2 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States.
Inpatients with MRSA colonization or infection.
At baseline, the groin, axilla, nares, dominant hands of 10 patients and 6 environmental high-touch surfaces in their rooms were sampled. Cultures were then taken of the patient hand and high-touch surfaces 3 more times at 90-minute intervals. After each swabbing, patients' hands and surfaces were disinfected. Patient activity was assessed by interviews at hospital 1 and analysis of video footage at hospital 2. A contamination pressure score was created by multiplying the number of colonized body sites with the activity level of the patient.
In total, 10 patients colonized and/or infected with MRSA were enrolled; 40 hand samples and 240 environmental samples were collected. At baseline, 30% of hands and 20% of high-touch surfaces yielded MRSA. At follow-up intervals, 8 (27%) of 30 patient hands, and 10 (6%) of 180 of environmental sites were positive. Activity of the patient explained 7 of 10 environmental contaminations. Patients with higher contamination pressure score showed a trend toward higher environmental contamination.
Environmental MRSA contamination in patient rooms was highly dynamic and was likely driven by the patient's MRSA body colonization pattern and the patient activity.