Gym equipment found to contain high levels of antibiotic-resistant pathogens

According to a study presented at ASM Microbe Online, 43% of Staphylococcus bacteria harboring on exercise equipment in university gyms was resistant to ampicillin, and 73% of the isolated microbes are resistant to numerous additional drugs.

Gym Equipment

Image Credit: 4 PM production/Shutterstock.com

The study was performed by the late Xin Fan, PhD, and her student Chase A. Weikel from West Chester University (WCU) in association with John M. Pisciotta, PhD, associate professor of Biology from West Chester University.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that about 120,000 S. aureus bacteremia cases have caused 20,000 deaths earlier in 2017. Strains of pathogenic S. aureus normally gain entry through skin abrasions.

As emphasized by the current COVID-19 pandemic, there is a growing public concern about communal regions as a bastion of infectious germs.

The study results showed that among the 462 S. aureus isolates recovered from the surfaces of 45 different gym equipment, 43% were resistant to ampicillin. Among the 60 representative isolates that were resistant to ampicillin, 73% were impervious to two or more additional medications such as sulfisoxazole and erythromycin.

These results suggest regularly contacted surfaces in different recreational environments can harbor multi-drug resistant S. aureus (MDRSA) and should be disinfected frequently to best maintain public health and community wellbeing.”

Chase A. Weikel, Graduate Student, Thomas Jefferson University

Weikel graduated from West Chester University in 2018.

The researchers obtained samples from two university recreational facilities. Surfaces that were often touched by gym patrons, such as barbell handles and dumbbells, treadmill and elliptical handles, kettlebells, and cable pull grips, were disinfected and plated on Mannitol Salt Agar (MSA). This differential and selective medium was utilized to separate and presumptively detect S. aureus.

Following this, isolates were replicated to both MSA and ampicillin, and those that were also resistant to penicillin or oxacillin were later screened using CHROMagar™ MRSA. This MRSA is a specific and sensitive media used for screening S. aureus (MRSA) that is resistant to methicillin.

Isolates that tested positive with CHROMagar™ MRSA were exposed to more confirmatory techniques, such as latex agglutination assay. Gram-positive status as well as morphology and arrangement of cells were confirmed through microscopy.

The study is being presented as an ePoster at the ASM Microbe conference. The conference is continuing in an on-line format in August 2020.

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