A Metatranscriptomics Survey of Microbial Diversity on Surfaces Post-Intervention of cleanSURFACES® Technology in an Intensive Care Unit
Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) pose a serious threat to patients, and hospitals spend billions of dollars each year to reduce and treat these infections. Many HAIs are due to contamination from workers’ hands and contact with high-touch surfaces. Therefore, we set out to test the efficacy of a new preventative technology, AIONX® Antimicrobial Technologies, Inc’s cleanSURFACES®, which is designed to complement daily chemical cleaning events by continuously preventing re-colonization of surfaces. To that end, we swabbed surfaces before (Baseline) and after (Post) application of the cleanSURFACES® at various time points (Day 1, Day 7, Day 14, and Day 28). To circumvent limitations associated with culture-based and 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing methodologies, these surface swabs were processed using metatranscriptomic (RNA) analysis to allow for comprehensive taxonomic resolution and the detection of active microorganisms. Overall, there was a significant (P < 0.05) global reduction of microbial diversity in Post-intervention samples. Additionally, Post sample microbial communities clustered together much more closely than Baseline samples based on pairwise distances calculated with the weighted Jaccard distance metric, suggesting a defined shift after product application. This shift was characterized by a general depletion of several microbes among Post samples, with multiple phyla also being reduced over the duration of the study. Notably, specific clinically relevant microbes, including Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridioides difficile and Streptococcus spp., were depleted Post-intervention. Taken together, these findings suggest that chemical cleaning events used jointly with cleanSURFACES® have the potential to reduce colonization of surfaces by a wide variety of microbes, including many clinically relevant pathogens.