You may be tricked into thinking that washing machines are, uhm…clean. It was found that one of them contained drug-resistant bacteria that put the lives of the newborns and their mothers in danger.
Most washing machines are places where bacteria thrive – humidity, closure, warmth. It was discovered that a German hospital was using a washing machine that spread life-threatening pathogens to newborn and other patients.
This type of incident is unlikely to happen in a health care setting, as they use industrial machines, not the household type, affirms study lead author Dr. Ricarda Schmithausen, a senior physician at the Institute for Hygiene and Public Health at University Hospital Bonn in Germany.
Does this mean that the household ones can carry considerable amounts of bacteria?Unfortunately, yes. The ones that are using decreased temperatures for cleaning, called energy-efficient washer, are more likely to harbor unwanted forms of life. The good news is that most bacteria we carry on our clothes and body are not dangerous to humans.
Don’t try to fix your machine. It was meant to eliminate odors and soiling, not to create a sterile environment.
How to Acknowledge the Presence of Bacteria?
The case of the German hospital was introduced to the public in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology. The investigation started when the doctors warned everyone that the newborn test positive for Klebsiella oxytoca, a drug-resistant germ that can cause infections of many kinds.
The newborn didn’t fall sick afterwards. It was spotted on their body in good time, and it didn’t lead to an infection. Anyway, it could have disastrous outcomes for their health, such as pneumonia, wound infections, and urinary tract infections. The patients with low immunity were at a higher risk.
After the problem and its source were successfully identified, the cleaning staff of the hospital ceased the K. oxytoca spread by giving up on the laundry appliance.
The author affirms that we need to be extra careful around people with a weak immune system, seniors, and patients with visible wounds. Is good to know that only high temperature and strong detergents can keep the bacteria cultures at a distance.