Environmental Concerns - Leter to the Editor

We read with great interest the 'Tips from the clinical experts' segment concerning environmental cultures [January 2004, p. 26]. We are involved with several hospitals that utilize our services for the analysis of environmental samples. Our experience with such samples includes the routine testing of dialysis fluids for a variety of organisms, including Burkholderia cepacia, Sphingomonas species, Ralstonia pickettii, Serratia marcescens, Acinetobacter species, Enterobacter species, Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, and Stenotrophomonas multivorum. Many hospitals will use these organisms as alerts, requiring the sanitizationsanitization of the dialysis unit.

Another common area of concern is transplant units where shower heads and other tap-water outlets may be tested for the presence of Coliforms, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Legionella pneumophilia, Aspergillus
species, and Mycobacterium species. Allergic reactions among staff and patients have triggered the sampling of air for Aspergillus species and Stachybotrys chartarum.

These analyses and more may be required during periods of construction. This is just a sample of occasions that may require environmental culturing. We are sure the need for this type of analysis will increase following the recent release of the CDC's Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Healthcare Facilities.

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