The Role of Environmental Contamination in the Transmission of Nosocomial Pathogens and Healthcare-Associated Infections

Curr Infect Dis Rep. 2018 Apr 27;20(6):12. doi: 10.1007/s11908-018-0620-2.


Purpose of review: The aim of this review is to highlight the role of environmental contamination in healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and to discuss the most commonly implicated nosocomial pathogens.

Recent findings: Recent studies suggest that environmental contamination plays a significant role in HAIs and in the unrecognized transmission of nosocomial pathogens during outbreaks, as well as ongoing sporadic transmission. Several pathogens can persist in the environment for extended periods and serve as vehicles of transmission and dissemination in the hospital setting. Cross-transmission of these pathogens can occur via hands of healthcare workers, who become contaminated directly from patient contact or indirectly by touching contaminated environmental surfaces. Less commonly, a patient could become colonized by direct contact with a contaminated environmental surface. This review describes the role of environmental contamination in HAIs and provides context for reinforcing the importance of hand hygiene and environmental decontamination for the prevention and control of HAIs.

Keywords: Environmental contamination; Healthcare-associated infections; Hospital environment; Multi-drug resistant organisms; Nosocomial pathogens.

Publication types

  • Review