Bacteria, along with other microbes, have a remarkable ability to survive and even flourish in habitats that other organisms cannot endure – hot springs, the stratosphere and even in radioactive waste. With that in mind, it is unsurprising that on inanimate surfaces such as door handles or table tops, microbes show a degree of persistence and survival.
Trying to get rid of them on those particular surfaces can be quite challenging, which becomes a concern in hygiene conscious environments such as healthcare and food processing facilities. It is easy to see how the presence and growth of bacteria on such surfaces for long periods of time might lead to a higher probability of cross-contamination.
How long can bacteria survive on hard surfaces?
The exact length of time microbes remain on a surface is subject to many variables, which can either prolong or reduce the life cycle of a microbe. This being said, the figures that are available give an insight into the survival capability of bacteria, mould and fungi on inanimate surfaces.
Microbiologists recognise two different classifications of bacteria known as Gram-positive and Gram-negative according to the structure of the microbial cell wall. Structurally, Gram-negative strains of bacteria have an outer membrane, while Gram-positive strains do not.
On dry surfaces, most Gram-positive bacteria, including Enterococcus spp., Staphylococcus aureus (including MRSA) and Streptococcus pyogenes can persist for months. The survival time of Gram-positive bacteria is relatively long because they appear to tolerate a lack of moisture.
Candida albicans, a very common fungal microbe, can, for example, survive for up to 4 months on surfaces while other yeasts, such as Candida glabrata, have shown the ability to survive up to 5 months.
While there are many Gram-negative bacteria known to also survive for months, such as Acinetobacter spp., E. coli, Klebsiella spp., Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Serratia marcescens and Shigella spp., the likes of Bordetella pertussis, Proteus vulgaris, and Vibrio cholerae barely last a few days.
Making surfaces inhospitable to microbes with the use of antimicrobial technology
In light of this, it is evident that a rigorous cleaning regime is required not just to inhibit microbial colonisation and mitigate the negative impact microorganisms have on a surface, but also to prevent the spread of microbes to adjacent surfaces. Periodic cleaning of surfaces with disinfectants is the common approach. Whilst cleaning is simple to conduct, its efficacy can be questionable and, in many cases, subject to budgetary constraints, chemical performance and even human error. Most importantly, however, its effect is short-lived; being limited to the point when recontamination of the surface occurs. Once a surface is contaminated again, microbes will continue to survive until the area is disinfected or cleaned next.
Scientifically proven antimicrobial technology might offer a solution to the present challenge. Treating surfaces such as door handles, floors or tabletops with antimicrobial technology offers a continuous, long-lasting line of defence in the battle against microbes. Antimicrobial surfaces work both in between cleaning and in addition to cleaning because the contaminants cannot survive exposure to the treated surface.
Whilst antimicrobial surfaces alone are not a solution, The benefits of antimicrobial product protection are obvious since they not only reduce the likelihood of cross-contamination to adjacent surfaces, but they also improve the overall hygiene of the environment.
How BioCote® can support you
If you are interested in finding out more about our solutions, or in making your own product range antimicrobial, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of the BioCote® team on +44 (0) 2477 712 489. Alternatively, you can contact us via our contact.