Biofilms consist of not only bacteria but also extracellular polymer substrates (EPS). They are groups of microorganisms that adhere to each other on a surface, especially as a result of exposure to water and bacteria. They can pose health risks to humans as they grow in hospital settings that include medical supplies and devices. In a previous study, the researchers discovered that bacteria/biofilm grew well on wetted external latex, male catheters. These results concerned the investigators and encouraged them to find ways for prohibiting the growth of bacteria/biofilm on the male catheters (which are made of natural rubber). They carried out a new study to assess the influence of metals and voltage for the growth of bacteria on these latex samples. For this purpose, a unique Rotation Disk Reactor was used to accelerate biofilm formation on external male catheter samples. This setup included a dip tank containing water and a rotating wheel with the attached latex samples (some of which had single electrodes while others had paired electrodes with applied voltage). The process allowed the samples to become wetted and also exposed them to microorganisms in the ambient air during each revolution of the wheel. The results (as viewed from SEM images) showed that when compared to the control sample, the presence of metals (brass, stainless steel, and silver) was generally effective in preventing bacterial growth. Also the use of voltage (9.5 volt battery) essentially eliminated the appearance of rod shaped bacteria in some of the samples. It can be concluded that the presence of metals significantly reduced bacterial growth on latex and the application of voltage was able to essentially eliminate bacteria, providing appropriate electrode combinations were used.
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