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Cross-contamination of bacteria-colonized pierced earring holes and fingers in nurses is a potential source of health care-associated infections

      Highlights

      • S. aureus was recovered from earlobes of nurses who had pierced earring hole.
      • 50% of S. aureus positive in earlobe nurse were also be positive on their fingers.
      • Contaminated pierced earlobes with S. aureus can be a source of HAI.

      Background

      In recent years, the wearing of pierced earrings for personal adornment has increased among health care workers in Japan. However, the transmission dynamics between bacteria in pierced earring holes and fingers has not been clearly shown.

      Methods

      Earlobes and fingers of 200 nurses (128 nurses with pierced earlobes and 72 nurses with unpierced earlobes) working at a university hospital were sampled to determine whether cross-transmission of bacteria-colonized pierced earring holes and fingers in nurse is possible.

      Results

      Of 128 nurses who had pierced earring holes, Staphylococcus aureus was recovered from earlobes of 24 nurses (18.8%) compared with 7 of 72 nurses without pierced earring holes (9.7%) (P = .09). Of those 15 nurses yielding S aureus from both earlobes and fingers, 12 were from nurses who had pierced earring holes compared with 3 nurses without pierced earring holes. Excluding 1 nurse, antimicrobial susceptibility patterns and genotypes of S aureus from both earlobe and fingers of each nurse were identical.

      Conclusion

      Pierced earlobes can be a source of health care-associated infection via cross-transmission of bacteria from earlobe holes to fingers.

      Key Words

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