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Survival of pneumococcus on hands and fomites

Smith-Vaughan, Heidi C., Crichton, Faith, Beissbarth, Jemima, Morris, Peter S. and Leach, Amanda J. (2008). Survival of pneumococcus on hands and fomites. BMC Research Notes,1:112-115.

Document type: Journal Article
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IRMA ID 10014xPUB16
Title Survival of pneumococcus on hands and fomites
Author Smith-Vaughan, Heidi C.
Crichton, Faith
Beissbarth, Jemima
Morris, Peter S.
Leach, Amanda J.
Journal Name BMC Research Notes
Publication Date 2008
Volume Number 1
ISSN 1756-0500   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Start Page 112
End Page 115
Total Pages 4
Place of Publication United Kingdom
Publisher BioMed Central Ltd.
Field of Research 1199 - Other Medical and Health Sciences
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DEST)
Abstract Background
Pneumococcal hand contamination in Indigenous children in remote communities is common (37%). It is not clear whether this requires frequent inoculation, or if pneumococci will survive on hands for long periods of time. Thus the aim of this study was to determine the survival time of pneumococci on hands and fomites.

The hands of 3 adult volunteers, a glass plate and plastic ball were inoculated with pneumococci suspended in two different media. Survival at specified time intervals was determined by swabbing and re-culture onto horse blood agar. Pneumococci inoculated onto hands of volunteers were recovered after 3 minutes at 4% to 79% of the initial inoculum. Recovery from one individual was consistently higher. By one hour, only a small number of pneumococci were recovered and this was dependent on the suspension medium used. At subsequent intervals and up to 3 hours after inoculation, < 10 colony forming units were recovered from hands. On a glass plate, pneumococcal numbers dropped an average 70% in the two hours after inoculation. Subsequently, < 100 colony forming units were recovered up to 15 hours after inoculation.

The poor survival of pneumococci on hands suggests that the high prevalence of pneumococcal hand contamination in some populations is related to frequent inoculation rather than long survival. It is plausible that hand contamination plays a (brief) role in transmission directly, and indirectly through contamination via fomites. Regular hand washing and timely cleansing or removal of contaminated fomites may aid control of pneumococcal transmission via these routes.
Keywords pneumococci
Indigenous children
pneumococcal transmission
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