Analysis of Acinetobacter baumannii survival in liquid media and on solid matrixes as well as effect of disinfectants

Z Bravo, M Orruño, T Navascues, E Ogayar, J Ramos-Vivas, V R Kaberdin, I Arana
Journal of Hospital Infection 2019 April 12

BACKGROUND: While being a cause of healthcare-associated infections, Acinetobacter baumannii possesses considerable potential to survive on inanimate hospital surfaces under hostile conditions (e.g. disinfection or desiccation).

AIMS: To learn more about its survival strategy and capacity to persist in liquid media and on surfaces mimicking hospital environments.

METHODS: We studied the effect of temperature, nutrient deprivation, permanence on inanimate surfaces and exposure to disinfectants on the survival of four A. baumannii strains (ATCC 19606T and three clinical isolate) by monitoring the number of total and viable cells using fluorescent microscopy and of culturable cells by standard cultures.

FINDINGS: Bacterial survival was differentially affected by temperature (cells maintained at 20ºC remained culturable at least within 30 d) and physical environment (desiccation favored cell resistance to stress at 37ºC). Moreover, persistence was associated with two adaptation patterns: one linked to entry into the viable but nonculturable (VBNC) state, whereas the other apparently followed a bust-and-boom model. While studying the effect of disinfectant (commercial bleach and Quaternary Ammonium Compounds), we found that treatment with these antibacterial compounds did not eliminate A. baumannii populations and provoked the reduction of culturable populations, although a fraction of cells remained culturable.

CONCLUSION: The ability to persist for long periods on different surfaces mimicking those usual found in hospitals along with the A. baumannii capacity to survive after disinfection process could be accountable for the recurrent outbreaks in intensive care units (ICUs).

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