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The visual screening of hospital surfaces for MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), Clostridium difficile (C-diff.) and Acinetobacter baumannii, to an accuracy level of fewer than ten cells per square millimeter has been successfully achieved as part of the first phase of a healthcare infections research project funded by the UK government.
Using direct light microscopy technology, Best Scientific, a British company based in Swindon, have been able to detect each of the three pathogens on a variety of hospital surfaces. The company's aim is to use their findings to build a mobile detection unit to enable MRSA, C-diff. and A. baumannii to be identified rapidly and efficiently by hospital staff without the need for laborious swabbing and culture processes.
These three highly dangerous pathogens are capable of survival on surfaces and equipment for long periods, explains Dr Eric Best, managing director of Best Scientific. As such, they pose a high risk to hospital patients, a risk which our screening results show could be very significantly reduced.
We believe, in fact, that an instantaneous assessment of contamination levels within the hospital environment is achievable using direct light microscopy technology. This would allow us to identify contaminated surfaces and equipment by visualizing microbes on food, surgical instruments and a variety of materials used as contact surfaces such as stainless steel, plastics, vinyl, metals and clothing. The potential exists, therefore, to visually screen surgical equipment and hospital surfaces.
Best Scientific's work is part of a Government-funded Small Business Research Initiative in which a number of companies are involved in phase one research of the Microbial Decontamination System of Hands, surfaces and Hospital Equipment and the effectiveness of Routine Decontamination Techniques for the detection of MRSA and C-diff. for use by National Health Service (NHS) Hospitals in the UK. Best Scientific's research partners are the University of Southampton's Schools of Biological Sciences and Health Sciences while phase one trails have been carried out at Basingstoke General Hospital.
Best Scientific superbug screening