Phenotypic and genotypic characterization of clinically relevant bacteria isolated from dental waste and waste workers’ hands, mucosas and coats

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Abstract

Infectious wastes are potential sources of pathogenic micro-organisms, which may represent a risk to the professionals who manage them. In this study, we aimed to characterize the infectious bacteria present in dental waste and waste workers. The dental waste produced over 24 h was collected and waste workers were sampled by swabbing. Isolate resistance profiles were characterized by Vitek® and PCR and biofilm formation by Congo Red agar, string test and microtitre assay. To assess similarity between the waste and the workers’ samples, a random amplified polymorphic DNA test was used. Twenty-eight bacteria were identified as clinically relevant. The most frequent gene was blaTEM present in five Gram-negative micro-organisms, and one blaSHV in Klebsiella pneumoniae. All Pseudomonas aeruginosa were positive to extracellular polymeric substances formation, except one isolated from a worker. Klebsiella pneumoniae had negative results for the string test. Pseudomonas aeruginosa showed better adherence at 25°C after 48 h of incubation and K. pneumonia had the best biofilm formation at the same temperature, after 24 h. The similarity between P. aeruginosa recovered from dental waste and from workers was low, however, it is important to note that a pathogen was found on a worker's hands and that improvements in biosafety are required.

Significance and Impact of the Study

Infectious dental waste can contain clinically relevant bacteria with important resistance and biofilm profiles. These micro-organisms could be transmitted to waste workers, other professionals and patients if the principles of biosafety measures are neglected. To our knowledge, no study has ever evaluated the microbial characterization and the potential contamination risk of dental infectious waste and waste handlers. The presence of clinically relevant bacteria in the hands and nasal mucosa of waste workers highlights the need for studies in this field to clarify the risk of these pathogens in dental healthcare services, and to stress the need for an efficient waste management.

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