A new UK study shows widespread surface contamination with monkeypox DNA in healthcare facilities, with 93% of surfaces in occupied patient rooms contaminated, and significant contamination of healthcare workers’ personal protective equipment (PPE).
The researchers were also able to isolate infectious viruses from two samples, including an air sample.
The study, published in The Lancet Microbe, based on tests conducted in four respiratory isolation rooms at the Royal Free Hospital in London. The rooms were occupied by six patients with confirmed symptomatic monkeypox at various times from May 24 to June 17, 2022.
In addition to PPE, 60 in-room surfaces were wiped and air samples were taken from patient rooms (including before and during bed changes), vestibules and corridors adjacent to isolation rooms, the authors said.
PSA swabs showed DNA on 4 of 12 surfaces, including two each of face covering visors and gloves.
Viable virus found in 2 samples
Of 20 air samples collected, 5 (25%) were positive, including 3 of 4 air samples collected before and during bed changes.
Replication-competent virus was identified in 2 (50%) of 4 specimens chosen for virus isolation, including air samples collected during bed changes and from a swab specimen of an anteroom floor, the authors said.
“The detection of infectious monkeypox virus in air samples collected during a bed change underscores the importance of appropriate respirators for medical workers performing activities that could expose infectious material to contaminated environments,” the authors said.
However, the authors point out that the detection of replication-competent viruses in environmental samples does not mean that transmission leading to infection would inevitably occur.
However, the authors also said their findings could have broader public health implications. “The pollution findings could be relevant to public health measures in other spaces and settings where people with monkeypox spend extended periods of time, such as B. bedrooms and bathrooms,” they write.
“Further investigation is needed into contamination of areas that are occupied for shorter periods of time, such as B. Ambulances and healthcare facilities that do not have mechanical negative pressure ventilation.”
Commenting on the study, authors from Niger Delta University wrote: “The identification of viable monkeypox virus in air samples during bed-turning is new and noteworthy, especially since the only confirmed case of healthcare-associated monkeypox in non-endemic countries has been associated with bed-turning.” in a patient’s room.”
This case happened in the UK in 2018.
The authors of the commentary write that historically there have been fewer than 12 documented cases of public health-related monkeypox during African outbreaks.
Android app for lesion detection
In other news from monkeypox research, a mobile app for Android phones is now able to use deep learning to offer a preliminary monkeypox diagnosis based on users’ skin rash images.
“The system allows monkeypox suspects to prescreen with their mobile devices from the comfort of their own homes. It allows infected individuals to take action in the early stages of infection,” the authors said.