Environment surface sampling in 33 Washington State fire stations for methicillin-resistant and methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus

Am J Infect Control. 2014 Jun;42(6):591-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2014.02.019.


Background: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and methicillin-susceptible S aureus (MSSA) were isolated from environment surfaces sampled from 33 Washington State fire stations.

Methods: Samples were collected by fire personnel using commercial testing swabs. One to 6 surfaces were sampled per swab with 20 swabs per station. Biochemical tests were used to confirm MRSA and MSSA isolates. A short survey designed to collect information on cleaning procedures in the stations was included in the kits.

Results: MRSA was isolated from 8.0% and MSSA from 18.5% of the 653 samples. Nineteen fire stations (58.0%) were MRSA positive, 27 stations (82.0%) were MSSA positive, and 14 stations (42.4%) were positive for both MSSA and MRSA. Three stations (9.0%) were negative for MSSA and MRSA. Twelve fire stations (37.5%) reported fire service professionals with MRSA needing medical care. Positive controls were detected at levels of >10(2) CFU/mL and negative controls were negative.

Conclusions: The kit system allowed sampling of >2,000 surfaces from fire stations across Washington State. This is the first time an estimate of the level of MRSA-infected fire personnel has been determined from multiple districts within a single state. Further work is needed to determine if these data can be extrapolated to other career-based fire stations across the country.

Keywords: Fire station disinfection protocols; MRSA; MSSA; Staphylococcal sample kit.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriological Techniques / instrumentation
  • Disinfection / methods
  • Equipment Contamination
  • Firefighters*
  • Fomites / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus / isolation & purification*
  • Occupational Diseases / microbiology*
  • Protective Clothing / microbiology
  • Specimen Handling
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Washington
  • Workplace