What is Bioburden?
Bio-burden is as simple as it sounds. It refers to the total number of various microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, fungi (bio) that are contaminating (burdening) a given area, object or person. Let’s dive in to the importance of knowing your bioburden.
Humans have millions of microorganisms in and on our bodies, many which perform essential functions. They help us regulate emotions, temperature, skin texture and digestion – to name a few. So, it’s not necessarily bad to have a high bioburden – it really depends what kind of organisms they are.
For example, high numbers of bacteria have been associated with certain cancers. Research has shown that the bacteria H. pylori can cause gastric cancer in some individuals. Oddly enough, exposure to H. pylori also appears to reduce the risk of esophageal cancer in others. We are still learning about the complex human-bacteria relationship.
Why Does it Matter?
Microbes can reproduce very quickly, resulting in a high bioburden in a given area in a short amount of time. In fact, one bacterium can generate 16,777,216 units of bacteria in about 8 hours.
As you might guess, healthcare facilities are places with a high bioburden. This poses problems for those patients, especially immunocompromised, elderly or very young patients who may not be unable to fight off the infections caused by these microorganisms. In fact, on any given day, 1 in 31 patients will have an infection they acquired while in a healthcare facility.
Microorganisms spread in many different ways: commonly from direct contact with infected people, animals, insects and surfaces. But you may not realize one source of contamination that is often overlooked – the floors.
In this study by Koganti, you can see how easily pathogens are able to spread from the floor to all the surfaces nearby in just 24 hours. Patients, hospital staff and visitors can unknowingly become vectors for these microbes to spread.
“Contamination was common on high-touch surfaces in adjacent rooms, in the nursing station, and on portable equipment. Portable equipment included wheelchairs, medication carts, vital signs equipment, and pulse-oximeters.”
It is critical that healthcare professionals recognize the potential sources and locations of high bioburden areas in their facility and maintain appropriate levels of cleanliness to prevent their spread.
PathO3Gen Solutions is committed to creating cleaner and safer environments for everyone. Our UVZone technology eliminates up to 99.999% of microorganisms on shoe soles – reducing your facility’s bioburden. You can learn more about our technology here.