Investigation of Bacterial Pathogens on 70 Frequently Used Environmental Surfaces in a Large Urban U.S. University

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After reports of increased severity of bacterial infections from community institutions, a broad spectrum of 70 surfaces was sampled for potential bacterial pathogens in the morning and afternoon of one day per week over three consecutive weeks in a large U.S. university. Surfaces included public telephone mouthpieces, water fountain drains, student computer keyboards and desks, and buttons on elevators, vending machines, and photocopiers. A total of 420 samples was obtained. Bacterial counts were high on telephone mouthpieces, up to 168.8 colony-forming units (CFUs)cm-2 of surface area. Stenotrophomonas maltophilia was isolated from 60% of fountain drains. Ninety percent of the keyboards showed positive bacterial cultures in the afternoon sampling. Staphylococcus aureus was identified on keyboards, telephone mouthpieces, and an elevator button. No S. aureus were methicillin-resistant. The swab sampling method reduced bacterial counts to less than or equal to 2.0 CFUcm-2 on keyboards and telephone mouthpieces. Disinfectants for possible use in cleaning of telephones, water fountain drains, and keyboards are discussed.

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