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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

A prospective study to examine the epidemiology of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium difficile contamination in the general environment of three community hospitals in southern Ontario, Canada

Meredith C Faires1*, David L Pearl1, William A Ciccotelli23, Karen Straus2, Giovanna Zinken4, Olaf Berke15, Richard J Reid-Smith16 and J Scott Weese6

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Population Medicine, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada

2 Infection Prevention and Control, Grand River Hospital, Kitchener, ON, Canada

3 Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada

4 Infection Prevention and Control, St. Mary’s General Hospital, Kitchener, ON, Canada

5 Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada

6 Department of Pathobiology, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2012, 12:290  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-12-290

Published: 8 November 2012

Abstract

Background

The hospital environment has been suggested as playing an important role in the transmission of hospital-associated (HA) pathogens. However, studies investigating the contamination of the hospital environment with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or Clostridium difficile have generally focused on point prevalence studies of only a single pathogen. Research evaluating the roles of these two pathogens, concurrently, in the general hospital environment has not been conducted. The objectives of this study were to determine the prevalence and identify risk factors associated with MRSA and C. difficile contamination in the general environment of three community hospitals, prospectively.

Methods

Sampling of environmental surfaces distributed over the medicine and surgical wards at each hospital was conducted once a week for four consecutive weeks. Sterile electrostatic cloths were used for environmental sampling and information regarding the surface sampled was recorded. For MRSA, air sampling was also conducted. Enrichment culture was performed and spa typing was performed for all MRSA isolates. For C. difficile, isolates were characterized by ribotyping and investigated for the presence of toxin genes by PCR. Using logistic regression, the following risk factors were examined for MRSA or C. difficile contamination: type of surface sampled, surface material, surface location, and the presence/absence of the other HA pathogen under investigation.

Results

Overall, 11.8% (n=612) and 2.4% (n=552) of surfaces were positive for MRSA and C. difficile, respectively. Based on molecular typing, five different MRSA strains and eight different C. difficile ribotypes, including ribotypes 027 (15.4%) and 078 (7.7%), were identified in the hospital environment. Results from the logistic regression model indicate that compared to computer keyboards, the following surfaces had increased odds of being contaminated with MRSA: chair backs, hand rails, isolation carts, and sofas.

Conclusions

MRSA and C. difficile were identified from a variety of surfaces in the general hospital environment.

Several surfaces had an increased risk of being contaminated with MRSA but further studies regarding contact rates, type of surface material, and the populations using these surfaces are warranted.

Keywords:
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus; Clostridium difficile; Hospital; General environment; Risk factors; Livestock-associated MRSA strain; Spa typing; Ribotyping