Detection of Potential Pathogenic Bacteria on the Surfaces of Female Urinary Diversion Devices Following a Short Duration Military Training Exercise

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Peters AM, Yu I, Menguito M, Morrow S, Barnhill JC, Washington MA 21(2). 85 - 88 (Journal Article)

Background: Female Servicemembers are increasingly being incorporated into the combat arms and Special Operations communities. Female urinary diversion devices (FUDDs) have been used to facilitate urination in the austere environments that are encountered by Servicemembers. Importantly, the potential for the bacterial contamination of these devices has not been evaluated. The goals of this study were to determine whether microorganisms adhere to the surfaces of FUDDs in the field environment and to demonstrate the presence of potential pathogens on the used devices. Materials and Methods: A total of 15 devices that were used in a comprehensive 18-24-hour military field exercise were tested for the presence of microorganisms. Briefly, each device was swabbed, and the swabs were used to inoculate blood agar plates to encourage bacterial growth. The resulting bacterial colonies were identified, and the surface topography of the devices was investigated with electron microscopy. Results: Although microscopy revealed few surface features capable of facilitating bacterial attachment, several species were recovered. Significantly, a biofilm-forming strain of Proteus mirabilis (P. mirabilis) was detected on two of the devices. P. mirabilis is a mobile urinary pathogen that can potentially migrate from the surface of the device into the urinary tract of the user. Conclusion: Commercial FUDDs can support bacterial growth and harbor potential pathogens. Care should be taken to ensure that Servicemembers are aware of the importance of the proper care and cleaning of these devices in the field environment. To this end, standard operating procedures should be developed and distributed.

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