Project Director

McElrone, Marissa

Department Examiner

Spratt, Henry G.; Levine, David (Veterinary physical therapist)


Dept. of Health and Human Performance


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


Staphylococci species are known to be a cause of Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs) in neonatal intensive care units (NICU). There is limited research about the surveillance and identification of staphylococci bacteria from NICUs. Surveillance of bacteria within the NICU helps to identify areas acting as reservoirs for bacteria so that new cleaning policies and techniques can be put in place to stop the spread of HAIs. The objective of this study was to swab sample sites in a local level IV hospital NICU and identify locations of staphylococci presence throughout the NICU. Forty-one swabs were selected from over 900 swabs collected from the NICU at Erlanger Hospital for testing at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga’s Clinical Infectious Disease Control lab. Using aseptic technique and standard microbiological procedures swab samples from the NICU were regrown as pure subcultures and tested using a variety of different tests, including the Remel RapID™ STAPH PLUS identification system to provide genus and species identities for the isolates. Of the 41 swabs selected, 17 different staphylococci species were observed, including Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis. The 17 different identified species were found on 45% of the swab sites throughout the NICU, with the most contaminated device being the suction yankauer (53%), and the highest contaminated surface being floors near sinks (41%). Further study for bacterial surveillance in the NICU will help to determine the best disinfection policies and cleaning practices for the decreased transmission of HAIs.


This research was funded by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Clinical Infectious Disease Control research group and by the UTC Physical Therapy Department. Firstly, my biggest “thank you” to Henry Spratt, Jr., PhD, whom I could not have done this without. Dr. Spratt: thank you for being a patient, teaching, and understanding mentor to me throughout this project. I would like to thank David Levine, PhD, DPT, for helping to connect me with the UTC CIDC and offering his advice when needed. Thanks as well to Marissa McElrone, PhD, RDN, for offering support and guidance on this project in a busy time. To my family: Mom, Dad, Michael, Granny, and Grandpa, thank you for the continuous support and encouragement to never settle and always strive for greatness. Lastly, an additional thanks to Ezza Zahid for helping to inoculate swabs and to assist in various DNAse, coagulase, and STAPH PLUS testing.


B. A.; An honors thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Arts.




Nosocomial infections; Staphylococcus


staphylococci; nicu; staphylococci identification; bedside and surface contamination; healthcare-associated infections



Document Type



33 leaves







Included in

Bacteriology Commons