314. A Study of Bacterial Contamination of High-Touch Areas in Public Restrooms and Commercial Aircraft
Session: Poster Abstract Session: Assessing and Reducing Infection Risk
Friday, October 21, 2011
Room: Poster Hall B1
Background: To date, there have been virtually no quantitative or qualitative assessments of the range of bacteria contaminating public restrooms. Thus, we conducted this study to characterize bacterial environmental contamination of surfaces likely to be touched after washing and drying hands in selected public restrooms.

Methods: During December 2010 through February 2011 (study period), we carried out a microbiologic survey of high-touch areas in a variety of public restrooms and commercial aircraft.  Using quantitative and qualitative methods, we cultured standardized areas (4"x 4"), including faucets, paper dispenser levers, and restroom exit door knobs or handles. 

Results:  During the study period, we cultured four commercial aircraft and 18 restrooms, including a mall, hospital, offices, lecture hall, conference center, department stores, restaurants, airport, and resort.  Cultures yielded various potentially pathogenic bacteria.  The predominant gram-positive organisms recovered included Staphylococcus spp., Micrococcus spp., Bacillus spp., and Enterococcus spp.  Isolated Gram-negative microorganisms were mostly Enterobacteriaceae (e.g., Escherichia coli, Klebsiella spp., Cronobacter spp., Leclercia spp., Pantoea spp., Serratia spp.) or non-fermenters.  Quantitative cultures documented extensive contamination of all high-touch surfaces.  For several restrooms, the quantity of microorganisms was too numerous to count (TNTC), even given our process of counting up to 1,000 CFU/ml.  Faucets, soap and paper dispenser operating levers, and the exit door handle of restaurants and aircraft restrooms were more likely to have concentrations of microorganisms TNTC compared with other locations.

Conclusion: We documented extensive bacterial contamination of high-touch environmental sites in 22 public restrooms and aircraft, including a wide spectrum of Gram-positive and Gram-negative microorganisms.  Cultures obtained in the restrooms of fast-food restaurants were more likely to have quantitative colony counts TNTC.  Cultures of high-touch sites in three restrooms located in different areas of a tertiary care hospital yielded six microorganisms that are responsible for two-thirds of healthcare-associated infections. 

Subject Category: N. Hospital-acquired and surgical infections, infection control, and health outcomes including general public health and health services research

Lennox Archibald, MD, PhD1, Ray Rivera, MD1 and William Jarvis, MD, FIDSA2, (1)College of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, (2)Jason and Jarvis Associates, LLC, Hilton Head Island, SC


L. Archibald, None

R. Rivera, None

W. Jarvis, None

Findings in the abstracts are embargoed until 12:01 a.m. EST Thursday, Oct. 20 with the exception of research findings presented at IDSA press conferences.