Nosocomial transmission of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus via the surfaces of the dental operatory

Br Dent J. 2006 Sep 9;201(5):297-300; discussion 291. doi: 10.1038/sj.bdj.4813974.


Objective: We assess the possibility of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) transmission via the surfaces of the dental operatory.

Methods: A survey of MRSA contamination on the surfaces of the dental operatory, and an analysis of MRSA transmission via the dental operatory between patients was carried out in the department of special dental care and oral surgery.

Results: MRSA was observed on the surfaces of dental operatory including the air-water syringe and reclining chair. Nosocomial infection or colonisation of MRSA occurred in eight out of 140 consecutive patients who had no evidence of MRSA at admission. Antibiograms of 30 antibiotics revealed that the isolates from the eight patients were of the same strain as those from the surface of dental operatory. After treating the patients under a revised infection control (IC) protocol including a single use of barrier covers, MRSA was not detected on the surfaces of the dental operatory, and no nosocomial infection or colonisation occurred during hospitalisation (0/117 patients).

Conclusions: These results suggest that MRSA contaminates the surfaces of the dental operatory, and therefore the dental operatory should be considered a possible reservoir of MRSA.

MeSH terms

  • Cross Infection / microbiology*
  • Dental Equipment / microbiology
  • Dental Offices*
  • Disease Reservoirs / microbiology*
  • Fomites / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Infection Control, Dental
  • Methicillin Resistance*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / transmission*
  • Staphylococcus aureus