Introduction: The transfer efficiency of microbes to the hands is greater from nonporous surfaces such as acrylic, glass, ceramic tile, laminate, stainless steel and granite when compared with porous surfaces. The community pharmacies door handles are made of nonporous surfaces which raise the concern in possible transfer of potentially pathogenic and multi-drug resistant (MDR) bacteria in the community. This study aimed to isolate, identify the bacterial species and evaluate the antibacterial susceptibility pattern of bacterial contaminants from door handles of community pharmacies in Qassim region, Saudi Arabia.
Methods: This was an observational study primarily conducted in the Qassim region, Saudi Arabia. One hundred samples were collected during the period between February and April 2019, from the door handles of community pharmacies among different cities and countryside. Identification and characterisation were performed by culturing the samples on different agar media and following the standard bacteriological methods. Further analysis was also done using Siemens MicroScan.
Results: All pharmacies door handles were found to be colonised with various types of bacteria. Sixteen types of bacteria were identified, including Staphylococcus spp. (41.79%), Bacillus spp. (16.45%), Micrococcus spp. (13.78%), Panatoea spp. (9.35%), Acinetobacter spp. (8%), Enterococcus faecalis (3.12%), Enterobacter spp. (1.77%), Shigella sonnei (1.33%), Serratia plymuthica (1.33%), Weeksella virosa (0.88%), Klebsiella rhinoscleromatis (0.88%), Rhizobium radiobacter (0.88%), and Salmonella paratyphi A (0.44%). Isolates were also evaluated for antibacterial susceptibility testing that revealed several MDR bacteria.
Conclusions: This study shows that pharmacies door handles are contaminated with a diverse range of bacterial species and can act as a potential source of direct bacterial transmission to the community. Therefore, community awareness on hand hygiene should be raised and the use of automatic doors is highly recommended to reduce the chances of the transmission of pathogenic and MDR bacteria in the community. The efficacy of standard cleaning of the door handles should be revised. Further studies on the biofilm existence are also required.