Transfer of micro-organisms from dry surface biofilms and the influence of long survival under conditions of poor nutrition and moisture on the virulence of Staphylococcus aureus

N.J. Amaeze, A.B. Akinbobola, R. Kean, G. Ramage, C. Williams, W. MacKay*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Background: Biofilms on dry hospital surfaces can enhance the persistence of microorganisms on dry harsh clinical surfaces and can potentially act as reservoirs of infectious agents on contaminated surfaces.

Aim: This study was conducted to quantify the transfer of viable Staphylococcus aureus cells from dry biofilms through touching and to investigate the impact of nutrient and moisture deprivation on virulence levels in S. aureus.

Methods: Dry biofilms of S. aureus ATCC 25923 and a defective biofilm-forming ability mutant, S. aureus 1132 were formed in 24 well plates under optimised conditions mimicking dry biofilm formation on clinical surfaces. Microbial cell transfer was induced through the touching of the dry biofilms, which were quantified on nutrient agar. To investigate the impact of nutrient and moisture deprivation on virulence levels, dry and standard biofilms as well as planktonic cells of S. aureus ATCC 25923 were inoculated into Galleria mellonella and their kill rates compared.

Findings & Conclusion: Results of this study showed that viable cells from dry biofilms of S. aureus ATCC 25923 were significantly more virulent and readily transferrable from dry biofilms through a touch test, therefore representing a greater risk of infection. The biofilm-forming capability of S. aureus strains had no significant impact on their transferability with more cells transferring when biofilm surfaces were wet. These findings indicate that dry biofilms on hospital surfaces may serve as a reservoir for the dissemination of pathogenic microorganisms in hospitals, thus highlighting the importance of regular cleaning and adequate disinfection of hospital surfaces.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-39
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Hospital Infection
Volume150
Early online date31 May 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 May 2024

Keywords

  • dry surface biofilms
  • S. aureus
  • persistence
  • transmission

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