Privacy curtains are a potentially important site of bacterial contamination in hospitals. We performed a longitudinal study to determine the prevalence and time course of bacterial contamination on privacy curtains.


Over a 3-week period, swab cultures (n = 180) were obtained twice weekly from the leading edge of 43 curtains in 30 rooms in 2 intensive care units and a medical ward. Curtains were marked to determine when they were changed. Contamination with Staphylococcus aureus, methicillin-resistant S aureus (MRSA), Enterococcus spp, vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE), or aerobic gram-negative rods was determined by standard microbiologic methods. To distinguish persistence of pathogens on curtains from recontamination, all VRE and MRSA were typed using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis.

Credit: David Trinks

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Photo credit:  Billy Hathorn [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons