Use of atmospheric non-thermal plasma as a disinfectant for objects contaminated with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

Am J Infect Control. 2009 Nov;37(9):729-33. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2009.03.010. Epub 2009 Jun 25.


Background: Health care-associated infections because of methicillin-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are increasing worldwide despite current infection control measures. Novel methods for disinfection of MRSA would be useful.

Methods: We tested the effectiveness of atmospheric, non-thermal plasma discharge at killing S aureus, including USA300 strains, and at disinfecting experimentally contaminated hospital pagers.

Results: Exposure of S aureus to plasma at different concentrations and for varying lengths of time resulted in up to a 4- to 5-log(10) kill on tryptic soy agar plates within 10 minutes and was not toxic to epithelial cells. USA300 strains of MRSA were more resistant to plasma-based killing than other tested strains. Disinfection of hospital pagers experimentally coated with clinically relevant amounts of MRSA could be achieved in as little as 30 seconds.

Conclusion: Generation of plasma is a promising method for disinfection of objects or surfaces that warrants further study in hospital settings. The USA300 strains of S aureus may be more resistant to disinfection than other strains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Disinfection / methods*
  • Equipment Contamination*
  • Equipment and Supplies, Hospital / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus / isolation & purification*
  • Microbial Viability
  • Time Factors