Contaminated operating theatre foot wear: a potential source of healthcare associated infections in a northern Nigerian hospital

Emmanuel O Nwankwo, Azeez O Akande


Operating theatre foot wear (OTFWs) contaminated with potential pathogens are increasingly recognized as possible sources of healthcare associated infections (HCAIs). This study was undertaken to determine the rate of microbial contamination of OTFWs with potential nosocomial pathogens.

Sterile cotton wool tipped swabs, momentarily immersed in physiological saline, were used to collect samples from parts (i.e. surface and soles) of the OTFWs regularly worn by the operating theatre personnel at Murtala Mohammed Specialist Hospital (MMSH), Kano between January and June, 2010. These were cultured by standard procedures and examined for bacterial and fungal growth. Presence of human haemoglobin on non visible blood stained foot wear was confirmed with rapid chromatological immunoassay. Bacterial and fungal isolates were identified by standard microbiological methods.

Out of a total of 136 pieces of foot wear examined, 56 (41.2%) were found showing blood stain, while blood stain was not seen on 80 (58.8%). However, greater number 92 (68.0%) of foot wear were found to be contaminated with blood when chemical analysis was adapted.

Streptococcus spp. and Staphylococcus epidermidis were most frequently isolated.

The findings from this study could be used to adapt appropriate preventive measures in the theatre to limit transmission of potential pathogens for HCAIs.