Eye-catcher, indeed: Looking through a microscope is a common task for many scientists. Researchers now investigated the role of the eyepieces as a source of infection.

Image source: Furtwangen University

Microbiome study

Do microscope eyepieces pose an infection risk?

Light microscope for viewing microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi are commonly found in scientific laboratories. A research team from Furtwangen University, the University of Tübingen and Carl Zeiss Vision International GmbH, Aalen, examined more closely their role as potential vectors of infectious pathogens.

„Very little was known about this until now," explains the head of the study, Prof. Dr. Markus Egert, a lecturer in microbiology and hygiene at Furtwangen University. The focus was on the microscope eyepieces because of the intense contact with users' hands and eyes.

The researchers published their findings in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.

Cleaning with isopropanol [...] should be carried out regularly, particularly if different people use the same microscope

Markus Egert

For the study, the oculars of ten microscopes from a university laboratory were tested immediately after a practical class. Bacteria and fungi from all left eyepieces and eye cups were cultivated on various culture media, while all right eyepieces and eye cups underwent comprehensive molecular biological analysis. The tests were carried out before and after they were cleaned with 70% isopropanol for 30 seconds. "We were able to obtain excellent values from up to 1700 living bacteria per cm2, above all from typical skin bacteria such as cutibacteria and staphylococci, but also from environment and water bacteria such as paracocci. We did not find any fungi," said Prof. Egert. The molecular biological tests generally confirmed these findings; in total, 262 different types of bacteria were identified on the oculars tested. With staphylococcus epidermidis, paracoccus yeei, cutibacterium acnes and brevibacterium casei, four potentially pathogenic bacteria were isolated from the eyepieces. These can cause eye conditions such as keratitis or inflamation of the eyelid in sensitive people.

"So microscope oculars definitely have the potential to act as carriers of infectious pathogens. The good news: cleaning with isopropanol reduces the number of germs significantly by 99%. This should be carried out regularly, particularly if different people use the same microscope," concludes Prof. Egert.


Source: Furtwangen University

29.05.2020

Read all latest stories

Related articles

Photo

MRSA

Decolonization protocol can prevent dangerous infections

Antiseptic soap, mouthwash, and nose ointment after hospital discharge reduced infections and infection-associated hospitalizations due to MRSA in high-risk patients. Hospital patients who have…

Photo

Zincmolybdat

The sustainable pathogen killer

Professor Peter Guggenbichler is only too aware of infection prevention and control issues in hospitals. Prior to his retirement in 2013, from the Children’s Hospital at Erlangen University…

Fighting Infection

WHO joins ESCMID to fight global infections

The European Society for Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID) has been joined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to launch the 7th annual ‘International Day for Fighting…

Related products

BD Vacutainer Urine Tubes for Microbiology

Other

BD Vacutainer Urine Tubes for Microbiology

BD – Becton Dickinson
Hund – medicus plus Myko

Microscopy

Hund – medicus plus Myko

Helmut Hund GmbH
Olympus – CX33

Microscopy

Olympus – CX33

Olympus Europa SE & Co. KG
Sysmex - UF-5000

Identification/Susceptibility

Sysmex - UF-5000

Sysmex Europe GmbH
Atlas Genetics - Atlas Genetics io system

Infectious diseases testing

Atlas Genetics - Atlas Genetics io system

Atlas Genetics Ltd
Eppendorf – Mastercycler nexus X2

Research Use Only (RUO)

Eppendorf – Mastercycler nexus X2

Eppendorf AG