Contamination, disinfection, and cross-colonization: are hospital surfaces reservoirs for nosocomial infection?

Clin Infect Dis. 2004 Oct 15;39(8):1182-9. doi: 10.1086/424667. Epub 2004 Sep 27.


Despite documentation that the inanimate hospital environment (e.g., surfaces and medical equipment) becomes contaminated with nosocomial pathogens, the data that suggest that contaminated fomites lead to nosocomial infections do so indirectly. Pathogens for which there is more-compelling evidence of survival in environmental reservoirs include Clostridium difficile, vancomycin-resistant enterococci, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and pathogens for which there is evidence of probable survival in environmental reservoirs include norovirus, influenza virus, severe acute respiratory syndrome-associated coronavirus, and Candida species. Strategies to reduce the rates of nosocomial infection with these pathogens should conform to established guidelines, with an emphasis on thorough environmental cleaning and use of Environmental Protection Agency-approved detergent-disinfectants.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Infections / prevention & control
  • Bacterial Infections / transmission
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Cross Infection / transmission*
  • Disinfection / methods*
  • Fomites / microbiology*
  • Hospitals*
  • Humans
  • Mycoses / prevention & control
  • Mycoses / transmission
  • Virus Diseases / prevention & control
  • Virus Diseases / transmission