MRSA: A Potential Threat to Indoor Environments

Dr. Rajiv Sahay, CIAQP, FIAS
Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory at Pure Air Control Services, Inc.

Super Bug MRSA... A Potential Threat to Indoor Environments

Photographed by Dr. Rajiv Sahay © 2014 EDLab

The strain of Gram positive bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, resistant to certain antibiotics is commonly known as MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus). These antibiotics include methicillin, oxacillin, penicillin and amoxicillin.

One of their main worries is the overuse and misuse of antibiotics. If the drugs are used too often they can become ineffective. More superbugs like MRSA will develop, the experts said.
This bacterium is significant from a clinical point of view. MRSA can cause a variety of problems ranging from skin infections, sepsis, pneumonia and bloodstream infections. In indoor environments, the main source of this bacterium is from the infected waste disposal of hospitals and other healthcare facilities, lockers, clinics, sports venues, public transportation, etc.
The spreading mechanism of community-associated MRSA infection is not well described, though it is believed that it may occur due to contact with infected materials or persons. MRSA dissemination in indoor environment is unclear.
However; chances of acquiring MRSA is higher with sharing or using potentially contaminated items such as towels, clothing, bedding, razors, high touch surfaces, and others that are or may have come in contact with infected skin. Increased risk of infection is warranted when a person is engage in activities or places that involve crowding, skin-to-skin contact and shared equipment or supplies. Some common and potential places where higher contamination risk occurs includes, but are not limited to, hospitals, athletic venues, playgrounds, daycare and school students, military personnel in barracks, and those who recently received inpatient medical care.
Sometimes environmental surfaces infested with this bacterium may not cause infection to individuals. Chances of infection are more due to a cut, bruise, burn or suppressed immune system in MRSA infected places, as mentioned above. In indoor environments, it is reported from both air and surface.
The inoculums of this bacterium can survive in the environment from a few hours to several months and years. In other words, it really depends on a number of factors such as temperature, humidity, nutrients, type of environment, etc. It is worthwhile to mention that a suspected environment must be tested to confirm its prevalence. It is also advisable to adapt a good hygiene practice to minimize the risk of infection from such microbes.
An environmental microbiology laboratory may be contacted to execute the MRSA test.
An environmental sample is collected from the suspected area by utilizing a Do-It-Yourself test kit or other methods. The collected sample is analyzed by the laboratory for MRSA identification. For instances of known cases or potential contaminated scenarios in indoor places, testing a sample before and after cleaning/disinfection reassures risk mitigation around the area of concern.

About Pure Air Control Services:

Pure Air Control Services, Inc. was founded in 1984 as a small, mechanical, contracting firm and has since set the industry standard for indoor environmental quality diagnosis, environmental laboratory and remediation. Pure Air Control Services has serviced more than 600 million square feet of indoor environments in over 10,000 facilities.

Contact Dr. Rajiv Sahay, CIAQP, FIAS at (800) 422-7873, Ext. 304 for additional information.

Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory (EDLab)

The Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory (EDLab) (established in 1992) at Pure Air Control Services (PACS) is an environmental lab offering complete and comprehensive indoor environmental microbiology laboratory services. They include: microbiology, aerobiology, chemistry, allergen assays and microscopy designed to meet all your indoor air needs. EDLab supports IAQ investigations by assisting with strategic sampling plan development and supplying media collection equipment while performing a wide range of environmental analyses.
For more information on EDLab at Pure Air Services, Inc. please contact Dr. Rajiv Sahay, CIAQP, FIAS, at (800) 422-7873 x 304, or visit www.edlab.org

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