Resistant bacteria may be lurking in the washing machine

In commercially available washing machines can apparently survive multi-resistant germs and pieces of clothing to be transferred. This happened recently in a children’s hospital in Bonn: The pathogen, Klebsiella oxytoca, have been repeatedly found on a neonatal intensive care unit. The Transmission of the germs is only able to be stopped, as the washing machine was removed from the hospital.

In the case of regular controls, the multi-drug-resistant pathogens were found in infants in intensive care. The bacterium can cause gastrointestinal and respiratory infections and in the worst case, a deadly Sepsis. The Hygiene specialists pursued the trail of the germs up to a washing machine, where the bacteria in the detergent compartment and on the door seal rubber were detected. With this machine, the socks and knitted the baby caps washed at the Station. The researchers assume that the pathogen arrived after the washing process the residual water on the seal or the final rinsing process on the clothes. It remains unclear how the bacteria got into the washing machine. Fortunately, it came to a dangerous infection in the babies.

"This is an extremely unusual case for a hospital, since it’s a household washing machine handelte", said study author Dr. Ricarda M. Schmithausen. Hospitals typically use a special washing machine and washing method, which can be washed at high temperatures, and disinfectants according to the German hospital hygiene guidelines, or leave the Laundry in designated external laundries for cleaning.

The incident, however, shows that germs in household washing can survive machines at water temperatures below 60°C. "If older people with open wounds or bladder catheters, or younger people living with festering injuries or infections in the household, should be washed the linen at 60°C, or with effective disinfectants to the Transfer of dangerous pathogens to vermeiden", Dr. Martin Exner, Director of the Institute for Hygiene and public health at the University hospital of Bonn advises.