A fomite is an inanimate porous (soft) or non-porous (hard) surface. Examples in a hospital environment are:
• Counter tops
• Medical equipment
• Bed rails
• IV poles
• Privacy curtains
• Upholstered furniture
Fomites become contaminated with microbes. Direct contact with body secretions or fluids through contact with aerosolized microbes with soiled hands.
During illness, microbes are shed in large numbers in body secretions including: blood, feces, urine, saliva, and nasal fluid. Direct contact with body secretions or fluids: Talking, Sneezing, Coughing, Vomiting
Pathogens can persist on fomites from hours to months, depending on numbers deposited, type of organism and environmental conditions.
• Staphylococcus aureus: Survived 7 days-7 months
• MRSA: Survived 20 days on cotton, 40 days on polyester
• VRE: Survived for more than 80 days on both cotton and polyester
• SARS virus: survives up to 96 hours on fomites
• Norovirus surrogate (feline calicivirus): survives 21-28 days on fomites
• Influenza A and B: survives 12 hours on cloth, tissues, paper
Fungi Candida, Aspergillus, Mucor, and Fusarium
• Survival ranged from 1 day to often weeks on common fabrics
Soft Surface Problems:
– Soft surfaces have been implicated in the spread of HAIs
– Contribute to spread via direct contact, aerosol transmission, cross-contamination potentials
– Epidemiological evidence for soft surfaces/textiles link to infectious outbreaks
– Soft surface control frequently overlooked in cleaning, sanitizing, disinfection protocols
Thank you to the Environmental Health Sciences Dept., University of Arizona for this comprehensive information.