Major article| Volume 42, ISSUE 6, P591-596, June 2014

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Environment surface sampling in 33 Washington State fire stations for methicillin-resistant and methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus

  • Marilyn C. Roberts
    Address correspondence to Marilyn C. Roberts, PhD, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, 357234, School of Public Health, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-7234.
    Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
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  • David B. No
    Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
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      Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and methicillin-susceptible S aureus (MSSA) were isolated from environment surfaces sampled from 33 Washington State fire stations.


      Samples were collected by fire personnel using commercial testing swabs. One to 6 surfaces were sampled per swab with 20 swabs per station. Biochemical tests were used to confirm MRSA and MSSA isolates. A short survey designed to collect information on cleaning procedures in the stations was included in the kits.


      MRSA was isolated from 8.0% and MSSA from 18.5% of the 653 samples. Nineteen fire stations (58.0%) were MRSA positive, 27 stations (82.0%) were MSSA positive, and 14 stations (42.4%) were positive for both MSSA and MRSA. Three stations (9.0%) were negative for MSSA and MRSA. Twelve fire stations (37.5%) reported fire service professionals with MRSA needing medical care. Positive controls were detected at levels of >102 CFU/mL and negative controls were negative.


      The kit system allowed sampling of >2,000 surfaces from fire stations across Washington State. This is the first time an estimate of the level of MRSA-infected fire personnel has been determined from multiple districts within a single state. Further work is needed to determine if these data can be extrapolated to other career-based fire stations across the country.

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