Staphylococcus aureus has been of growing interest to the scientific community in recent years. It is not only easily transferred from one person to another, but its rapidly evolving antibiotic resistance has made it increasingly difficult to treat. Once thought to be a hospital-acquired disease, S. aureus is now often found in the community. Studies indicate that people and clothing can act as carriers of S. aureus not only directly, but through airborne particles. For these reasons a research experiment was designed to determine the prevalence of S. aureus in the microbiology lab and anatomy and physiology lab at Southern Adventist University during the fall semester of 2014. While these labs contain similar numbers of students, many nursing students attend microbiology in their used clinical scrubs. An air sampler was used to detect the presence of S. aureus in the air, while sterile cloth was hung in the breathable air column to test for the airborne transfer of S. aureus to cloth. These samples were taken in each lab a total of six times (both in the presence and absence of students) over a period of two months. Out of a total of ten confirmed S. aureus bacterial colonies, six were found in the microbiology lab (all of which were in the presence of students) and four were found in the anatomy and physiology lab (two of which were in the presence of students). Additionally, two S. aureus colonies exhibited resistance to a variety of antibiotics and five colonies exhibited resistance to methicillin.
Based on the results of the tests performed, it can be concluded that students do spread S. aureus through the air at Southern Adventist University, and that the microbiology lab experiences this at a greater rate than the anatomy and physiology lab. Finally, it appears that MRSA is present in easily detectable levels in both labs.
Filler, Harrison, "Airborne Staphylococcus aureus in the Biology Labs at Southern Adventist University" (2014). Senior Research Projects. 175.