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Persistent contamination of fabric-covered furniture by vancomycin-resistant enterococci: Implications for upholstery selection in hospitals

  • Gary A. Noskin
    Affiliations
    Departments of Medicine (Division of Infectious Diseases) and Pathology (Division of Clinical Microbiology), Northwestern University Medical School, the Infection Control and Prevention Department, and the Prevention Epicenter, Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Chicago, Illinois
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  • Patrice Bednarz
    Affiliations
    Departments of Medicine (Division of Infectious Diseases) and Pathology (Division of Clinical Microbiology), Northwestern University Medical School, the Infection Control and Prevention Department, and the Prevention Epicenter, Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Chicago, Illinois
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  • Terra Suriano
    Affiliations
    Departments of Medicine (Division of Infectious Diseases) and Pathology (Division of Clinical Microbiology), Northwestern University Medical School, the Infection Control and Prevention Department, and the Prevention Epicenter, Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Chicago, Illinois
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  • Sandra Reiner
    Affiliations
    Departments of Medicine (Division of Infectious Diseases) and Pathology (Division of Clinical Microbiology), Northwestern University Medical School, the Infection Control and Prevention Department, and the Prevention Epicenter, Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Chicago, Illinois
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  • Lance R. Peterson
    Affiliations
    Departments of Medicine (Division of Infectious Diseases) and Pathology (Division of Clinical Microbiology), Northwestern University Medical School, the Infection Control and Prevention Department, and the Prevention Epicenter, Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Chicago, Illinois
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      Abstract

      Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) have emerged as important nosocomial pathogens in hospitals throughout the United States. An increasing concern with respect to VRE dissemination is survival on, and potential transmission from, environmental surfaces within health care institutions. Therefore, we assessed survival of VRE on fabric chairs in an attempt to determine the optimal upholstery for the health care setting. VRE was identified on 3 of 10 seat cushions sampled, including 2 chairs in a room of a patient with known VRE. After performing simulated contamination experiments, all samples were positive at 72 hours and 1 week after inoculation. Contamination of the upholstery could be prevented by placing a sheet folded 4 times or a bath blanket folded in half on the seat cushion. In conclusion, VRE are capable of prolonged survival on fabric seat cushions and can be transferred to hands. Environmental surfaces such as chairs may serve as a potential reservoir for nosocomial transmission of VRE, and an easily cleanable, nonporous material is the preferred upholstery in hospitals. (AJIC Am J Infect Control 2000;28:311-3)
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