Gym surfaces do not appear to be the sources for MRSA transmission, revealed in a study.
MRSA is an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can lead to severe infections and is associated with approximately 19,000 deaths annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The annual cost to treat MRSA in hospitalized patients is estimated at 3.2 to 4.2 billion dollars.
The purpose of the study, conducted by researchers from the University of Florida College of Medicine, was to determine whether community gymnasium equipment surfaces could harbor staphylococcal colonies and to assess whether disinfections lower the rate of bacterial transmission.
A total of 240 samples were collected from three local gyms, before and after cleaning, at three different times.
Each sample was analyzed for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA). In all 240 samples, none were positive for MRSA or MSSA.
"Despite the increasing incidence of community-acquired MRSA/MSSA infections, the gyms that we studied do not appear to be significant sources of staphylococcal infection," commented lead investigator Kathleen Ryan.
MRSA is known to remain viable on dry surfaces for extended periods.
Equipment tested in each gym included two separate gym mats, benches, dumbbells, cardio machines, and weight machines.
The first swabbing was completed at midday to serve as a baseline. A second sample was obtained in the two gyms that offered wipes shortly after equipment was cleaned with the wipes provided for discretionary use.
A third sample was obtained shortly after equipment was cleaned according to the gym's standard cleaning practices.
"This study supports the evidence that transmission [of MRSA] is more likely to originate from skin-to-skin contact than skin-to-surface contact in the community," say the authors.
The study was published in the March issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.