Objective: Fabrics can become contaminated with high numbers of microorganisms that may be pathogenic to patients in a hospital setting and can play an important role in the chain of infection. The aim of this study was to investigate the survival of several clinical bacterial and fungal isolates on several fabrics commonly used in hospitals.
Materials and Methods: Bacterial and fungal survival was tested on the following materials, each of which are commonly used in our hospital: 100% smooth cotton, 60% cotton-40% polyester, 100% wool and 100% silk. One isolate each of Candida albicans, Candida tropicalis, Candida krusei, Candida glabrata, Candida parapsilosis, Geotrichum candidum, Aspergillus fumigatus, Cryptococcus neoformans, vancomycin resistant Enterococcus faecium (VRE, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) positive Escherichia coli, inducible beta-lactamase (IBL) positive Pseudomonas aeruginosa, IBL-positive Acinetobacter baumannii and Stenotrophomonas maltophilia were used to contaminate fabrics. The survival of these microorganisms was studied by testing the fabric swatches for microbial growth.
Results: The median survival times for all the tested bacteria and fungi were as follows: 26 days on cotton, 26.5 days on cotton-polyester, 28 days on silk, and 30 days on wool. Among the bacterial species tested, E. faecium had the longest survival time on cotton-polyester fabrics. For the fungal isolates, it was observed that C. tropicalis and C. krusei survived for the shortest amount of time on cotton fabrics in the present study.
Conclusion: This survival data indicate that pathogenic microorganisms can survive from days to months on commonly used hospital fabrics. These findings indicate that current recommendations for the proper disinfection or sterilization of fabrics used in hospitals should be followed to minimize cross-contamination and prevent nosocomial infections.