Evaluation of methods for sampling of Staphylococcus aureus and other Staphylococcus species from indoor surfaces [Epub ahead of print]

Tidsskriftartikel - 2020


OBJECTIVES: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is an increasing public and occupational health concern. As transmission of MRSA can occur via contact with fomites, it is crucial to have sensitive methods for sampling of bacteria. The overall aim of this study was to obtain knowledge about methods and strategies for quantitative sampling Staphylococcus species on surfaces.

METHODS: The study was designed as a comparative sampling experiment with different samplers [dipslide (two agar types), swabs (three brands, used wet and dry, and elution from swabs or plate diluted)] on smooth stainless steel surfaces spiked with MRSA and methicillin-sensitive S. aureus (MSSA). Furthermore, bacteria sampled from indoor surfaces with frequent or infrequent contact with hands were quantified and identified using matrix-assisted laser desorption-ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry (MS).

RESULTS: Pre-moistened swabs in combination with dilution plating and dipslides were more sensitive than dry swabs. For recovery of MRSA and MSSA from surfaces with eSwabs, at least 0.3-100 CFU MRSA cm-2 and 5.3-8.6 CFU MSSA cm-2 should be present. The sensitivities of pre-moistened eSwabs were approximately 10-fold higher than those of dipslides and pre-moistened viscose and cotton swabs. The variation in concentrations of Staphylococcus species in replicate sampling of adjacent squares on indoor surfaces was higher for surfaces frequently touched by hands than for surfaces infrequently touched. In total 16 different Staphylococcus species were identified, and S. aureus was found only in 2 of 66 surface samples. A considerable overlap was found between species in replicate sampling within an environment and between the air and surfaces within an environment.

CONCLUSIONS: Pre-moistened eSwabs in combination with dilution plating were found to be the best method for surface sampling of MSSA and MRSA. The method can be used for assessing the risk of exposure and transmission of MRSA from environmental surfaces. To obtain a reliable measure of concentrations and the presence of Staphylococccus species a higher number of samples should be taken from surfaces with hand contact than from surfaces dominated by sedimented bacteria.


Madsen AM, Phan HUT, Laursen M, White JK, Uhrbrand K. Evaluation of methods for sampling of Staphylococcus aureus and other Staphylococcus species from indoor surfaces [Epub ahead of print]. Annals of Work Exposures and Health 2020.
doi: 10.1093/annweh/wxaa080

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