Research Articles

Contaminated Surfaces Contribute to Disease Transmission

Evidence That Contaminated Surfaces Contribute to the Transmission of Hospital Pathogens and an Overview of Strategies to Address Contaminated Surfaces in Hospital Settings

Published: American Journal of Infection Control, May 2013


Once thought to play a negligible role, evidence now indicates that contaminated surfaces play an important role in the “endemic and epidemic transmission of certain pathogens that cause health care-associated infections.” Through modeling transmission, microbiologic studies, observational epidemiologic studies, intervention studies, and outbreak reports, there is now ample evidence that contaminated surfaces contribute to transmission.


Environmental sampling of surfaces has found that certain pathogens can survive for months on dry hospital surfaces, with VRE being reported as lasting up to 4 years. Traditional cleaning methods, including bleach may not be sufficient to eliminate some pathogens, such as a study that found 27% of rooms contaminated with A. baumannii or MRSA following 4 rounds of bleach disinfectant. Improvements in cleaning and disinfection, including the use of ultraviolet C or pulsed Xenon ultraviolet radiation have “shown promise and improved efficacy” compared to conventional methods.