Journal of Hygiene

Research Article

An outbreak of post-operative sepsis due to a staphylococcal disperser

Elizabeth I. Tannera1, Judith Bullina1, C. H. Bullina1 and D. R. Gamblea1

a1 Public Health Laboratory, West Park Hospital, Epsom, Surrey


A staphylococcal disperser employed as a theatre technician appeared to have been the source of 11 cases of wound sepsis over a period of about 3 years. He was primarily a nasal carrier and after attempts to eradicate Staphylococcus aureus from his nose failed, his skin dispersal was controlled by daily washing with 4% chlorhexidine detergent (‘Hibiscrub’) and he was allowed to resume his theatre duties under careful bacteriological surveillance. Over the following 2 years 173 dispersal tests showed a mean dispersal of 1·7 c.f.u. per 2800 I air compared with a mean of 152 c.f.u. per 2800 I air in the month immediately preceding treatment and 55 c.f.u. per 2800 I in the period after cessation of treatment. One case of wound sepsis was attributed to the technician during the 2 years in which he received skin disinfection treatment.

(Received January 02 1980)