BUFFALO, N. Y. – Numerous scientific studies have concluded that two common bacteria that cause colds, ear infections, strep throat and more serious infections cannot live for long outside the human body. So conventional wisdom has long held that these bacteria won't linger on inanimate objects like furniture, dishes or toys.
But University at Buffalo research published this week in Infection and Immunity shows that Streptococcus pneumoniae and Streptococcus pyogenes do persist on surfaces for far longer than has been appreciated. The findings suggest that additional precautions may be necessary to prevent infections, especially in settings such as schools, daycare centers and hospitals.
"These findings should make us more cautious about bacteria in the environment since they change our ideas about how these particular bacteria are spread," says senior author Anders Hakansson, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. "This is the first paper to directly investigate that these bacteria can survive well on various surfaces, including hands, and potentially spread between individuals."
S. pneumoniae, a leading cause of ear infections in children and morbidity and mortality from respiratory tract infections in children and the elderly, is widespread in daycare centers and a common cause of hospital infections, says Hakansson. And in developing countries, where fresh water, good nutrition and common antibiotics may be scarce, S. pneumoniae often leads to pneumonia and sepsis, killing one million children every year.
S. pyogenes commonly causes strep throat and skin infections in school children but also can cause serious infection in adults.
The UB researchers found that in the day care center, four out of five stuffed toys tested positive for S. pneumonaie and several surfaces, such as cribs, tested positive for S. pyogenes, even after being cleaned. The testing was done just prior to the center opening in the morning so it had been many hours since the last human contact.
Hakansson and his co-authors became interested in the possibility that some bacteria might persist on surfaces when they published work last year showing that bacteria form biofilms when colonizing human tissues. They found that these sophisticated, highly structured biofilm communities are hardier than other forms of bacteria.
"Bacterial colonization doesn't, by itself, cause infection but it's a necessary first step if an infection is going to become established in a human host," he explains. "Children, the elderly and others with compromised immune systems are especially vulnerable to these infections."
He explains that studies of how long bacteria survive on inanimate objects have used cultures grown in laboratory media, called broth-grown planktonic bacteria, and invariably show that bacteria die rapidly.
"But we knew that this form of bacteria may not represent how they actually grow in the host," says Hakansson. "Since discovering that biofilms are key to the pathogenesis of S. pneumonaie, we wanted to find out how well biofilm bacteria survive outside the body."
The UB experiments found that month-old biofilm of S. pneumoniae and S. pyogenes from contaminated surfaces readily colonized mice, and that biofilms survived for hours on human hands and persisted on books and soft and hard toys and surfaces in a daycare center, in some cases, even after being well-cleaned.
"In all of these cases, we found that these pathogens can survive for long periods outside a human host," says Hakansson. But, he says, the scientific literature maintains that you can only become infected by breathing in infected droplets expelled through coughing or sneezing by infected individuals.
"Commonly handled objects that are contaminated with these biofilm bacteria could act as reservoirs of bacteria for hours, weeks or months, spreading potential infections to individuals who come in contact with them," concludes Hakansson. He cautions that more research should be done to understand under what circumstances this type of contact leads to spread between individuals.
"If it turns out that this type of spread is substantial, then the same protocols that are now used for preventing the spread of other bacteria, such as intestinal bacteria and viruses, which do persist on surfaces, will need to be implemented especially for people working with children and in health-care settings," he adds.
Hakansson, who is affiliated with the Witebsky Center for Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology and the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, both at UB, performed the study with co-authors Laura R. Marks, an MD/PhD candidate, and Ryan M. Reddinger, a PhD candidate, both in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at UB.
The research was funded by the UB Dept. of Microbiology and Immunology and the UB medical school.
In 2014, OSAP celebrates 30 years of being dentistry's brain trust on infection control and safety. OSAP's world class educational programs like "If Saliva Were Red", conferences, courses, and online resources can directly impact behavior and foster a culture of safety throughout dentistry. This can in turn:
-Prevent debilitating and life threatening disease
-Reduce liability and reputational risk of dental professionals.
Our ability to develop next generation patient safety resources depends on your contributions. Please support OSAP with a gift today.
Click HERE to make a gift.
(St. Paul, MN) – Patterson Dental and its business partners once again raised a record contribution in conjunction with the Patterson Leadership Summit in Minneapolis to support Dental Lifeline Network (DLN), a national nonprofit organization that provides dental care for people with disabilities or who are elderly or medically fragile.
Patterson Dental President Paul Guggenheim announced this year’s total: “We are excited to report that 2013 contributions to Dental Lifeline Network programs will exceed $236,000 – a record amount and a more than 12 percent increase over funds raised in 2012. This overwhelming support from our dental industry partners demonstrates what can be accomplished when we work together in tangible ways to transform the lives of needy people who have no other way to receive dental treatment.”
Dental Lifeline Network’s Donated Dental Services (DDS) program involves over 15,000 dentists and 3,600 laboratories that volunteer to help patients in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Donations from the Leadership Summit support these services, which DLN President Fred Leviton said helped 7,337 individuals with special needs receive $23.3 million in dental therapies last year. “The lives of thousands of vulnerable people are sustained, and even saved, by the many wonderful donors who support our programs,” Leviton stated. “Patterson Dental and its business partners have contributed to comprehensive care for over 120,000 people who have benefited from more than $200 million worth of care. These patients who have received services are profoundly grateful, as are we.”
The annual Leadership Summit brings together the Patterson Dental management team from across North America to discuss initiatives and other opportunities rolling out over the course of the year that will continue to improve the patient experience and practice lifestyle.“Every year we embrace the opportunity to connect with business partners at our Leadership Summit,” Guggenheim said. “But through our ongoing support for DLN we also have the opportunity to help more people and impact our industry as a whole, which makes this event truly rewarding.”
Too many Americans lack access to preventive dental care, a new study reports, and large differences exist among racial and ethnic groups.
To read more of this HealthDay News article, please click here.
A single strain of antibiotic-resistant E. coli bacteria has become the main cause of bacterial infections in women and the elderly worldwide over the past decade and poses a serious health threat, researchers report.
For more of the HealthDay News story, click here.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s job is to detect health threats, stop outbreaks, and prevent illness and injury. As 2013 comes to a close America’s health protection agency looks back at top five health concerns in 2013 and previews the five health threats that loom for 2014.
CDC’s most important achievements in 2013 are the outbreaks that didn’t happen, the diseases that were stopped before they crossed our borders, and the countless lives saved from preventable chronic diseases and injuries.
“While our biggest successes may be the bad things that did not happen, careful assessment of what we did well – and what we might do better – is essential for continued success,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.
CDC’s top accomplishments included the life-saving Tips tobacco education campaign; a pilot study supporting the technologies and methods of the proposed Advanced Molecular Detection (AMD) initiatives; the Million Hearts® Initiative to prevent a million heart attacks; progress in curbing healthcare-associated infections; and contributions to the U.S. President’s Plan for Emergency AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which prevented the one millionth baby from being infected with HIV.
However, much more needs to be done. CDC sounded the alarm about the potential loss of antibiotic protection from bacterial infections, the slow uptake of the anti-cancer human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, the growing epidemic of prescription opiate addiction, the perfect storm of emerging infectious disease threats, and the final push for global polio eradication.
CDC’s 2013 accomplishments include:
Demonstrations that new AMD technologies and methods can detect outbreaks sooner, stop them faster, and prevent them better. Through piloting AMD technologies and methods, the use of whole-genome sequencing allowed CDC to quickly track and trace a Listeria outbreak from contaminated cheese.
Progress in efforts to prevent a million heart attacks and strokes:
Tips from Former Smokers ads increased calls to quitlines far beyond CDC’s ambitious goals.
With CDC support, the FDA published its tentative determination that partially hydrogenated oils – the primary source of dietary trans-fat -- is not “generally recognized as safe.”Its removal from the food supply could save up to 7,000 lives and prevent up to 20,000 heart attacks a year.
CDC learned from providers around the country about how to improve blood pressure control, and is now working with federal, state, and local partners to scale up effective approaches.
More than 12,000 facilities now track healthcare-associated infections using CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). CDC has found that bloodstream infections in patients with central lines have decreased by 44 percent and surgical-site infections have decreased by 20 percent since 2008. Following CDC protocols could cut some dialysis-related bloodstream infections in half.
2013 marks the 10th anniversary of the U.S. President’s Plan for Emergency AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). In 2013, PEPFAR prevented the one millionth baby from being infected with HIV and has 6.7 million people on treatment, with HIV incidence falling in nearly all PEPFAR countries.
CDC published its first estimates of which foods were causing foodborne illnesses in the United States, referred to as Attribution Estimates. These estimates help regulators, industry, and consumers more precisely target and implement effective measures to prevent food contamination, and allow people to use it to help guide their own food safety practices.
CDC scientists traced the newly discovered Heartland virus that infected two men from northwestern Missouri to populations of lone star ticks in the region. This discovery helps CDC stay one step ahead of what could become another public health threat carried by ticks.
In conjunction with public health officials in Eurasia’s Republic of Georgia, CDC helped identify a new poxvirus (related to smallpox) that sickened shepherds in Akhmeta, Georgia. The successful investigation shows that rapid detection saves precious time during response to emerging health threats.
CDC researchers found that two new antibiotic regimens using existing drugs successfully treat gonorrhea infections. This is especially important given growing antibiotic resistance and dwindling treatment options for gonorrhea.
CDC’s core public health values are saving lives and protecting people. This can’t be done if the agency isn’t trusted – and in 2013 two national polls found CDC to be the most highly regarded of all federal agencies.
A major CDC priority in the year ahead is to improve America’s ability to detect diseases, both at home and abroad, before they become widespread outbreaks. AMD – the use of super computers and forensic DNA identification of infectious agents – is a key part of this effort. Improved AMD will enable faster and more effective infectious disease prevention and control.
“Investment in world-class technology is a wise investment in U.S. health security,” Dr. Frieden said. “American lives, and America’s economic stability depend on CDC quickly detecting and fighting superbugs.”
Technology is only one of the tools needed for global health security. CDC and its partners are building a global health security infrastructure that can be scaled up to deal with multiple emerging health threats.
Currently, only 1 in 5 countries can rapidly detect, respond to, or prevent global health threats caused by emerging infections. Improvements overseas, such as strengthening surveillance and lab systems, training disease detectives, and building facilities to investigate disease outbreaks can make the world -- and the United States -- more secure.
“There may be a misconception that infectious diseases are over in the industrialized world. But in fact, infectious diseases continue to be, and will always be, with us. Global health and protecting our country go hand in hand,” Dr. Frieden said.
Today’s health security threats come from at least five sources:
The emergence and spread of new microbes
The globalization of travel and food supply
The rise of drug-resistant pathogens
The acceleration of biological science capabilities and the risk that these capabilities may cause the inadvertent or intentional release of pathogens
Continued concerns about terrorist acquisition, development, and use of biological agents.
“With patterns of global travel and trade, disease can spread nearly anywhere within 24 hours,” Dr. Frieden said. “That’s why the ability to detect, fight, and prevent these diseases must be developed and strengthened overseas, and not just here in the United States.”
In addition to being crucial for global health security, AMD is a key element in one of CDC’s priority initiatives for 2014: combatting the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Several multidrug-resistant superbugs already threaten a throwback to the pre-antibiotic era.
CDC is the nation's health protection agency, working 24/7 to protect America from health and safety threats, both foreign and domestic. CDC increases the health security of our nation.