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Survival of enterococci during hospital laundry processing

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Katherine Orr, Amanda Jones, Ian Robson, Dr John Perry


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Much remains to be elucidated about the epidemiology of nosocomial enterococcal infections. Enterococci are, however, known to be relatively thermotolerant, and several studies have shown that under laboratory conditions many strains are able to survive the time/temperature combinations of the UK Department of Health recommendations for the decontamination of used linen (HSG(95)18). We therefore wished to investigate the efficacy of decontamination of enterococci from hospital linen in working hospital laundries. The thermotolerance of 40 strains of Enterococcus faecalis and Enterococcus faecium was first determined. Reduction by a factor of greater than 10(5) was achieved in only two of 40 strains after 3 min at 71degreesC or 10 min at 65degreesC, the time/temperature combinations specified by the Department of Health for the disinfection of used linen. During experimental challenge of 10 working hospital laundries, however, we demonstrated successful decontamination of laundry artificially contaminated with enterococci. This was shown to take place during the washing stage. Our study suggests that, despite the relative thermotolerance of enterococci, the time/temperature combinations specified in HSG(95)18 should be adequate for their decontamination in hospital laundries. (C) 2002 The Hospital Infection Society.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Jones AL; Orr KE; Robson I; Perry JD; Holliday MG

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Hospital Infection

Year: 2002

Volume: 50

Issue: 2

Pages: 133-139

ISSN (print): 0195-6701

ISSN (electronic): 1532-2939

Publisher: W.B. Saunders Co. Ltd.


DOI: 10.1053/jhin.2001.1137


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