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Open AccessArticle

Eye-Catching Microbes—Polyphasic Analysis of the Microbiota on Microscope Oculars Verifies Their Role as Fomites

1
Faculty of Medical and Life Sciences, Institute of Precision Medicine, Microbiology and Hygiene Group, Furtwangen University, Jakob-Kienzle-Strasse 17, 78054 Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany
2
Carl Zeiss Vision International GmbH, Turnstrasse 27, 73430 Aalen, Germany
3
Institute for Ophthalmic Research, Eberhard-Karls University, Elfriede-Aulhorn-Strasse 7, 72076 Tuebingen, Germany
4
Center for Ophthalmology, Eberhard-Karls University, Elfriede-Aulhorn-Strasse 7, 72076 Tuebingen, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9(5), 1572; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9051572
Received: 8 April 2020 / Revised: 18 May 2020 / Accepted: 19 May 2020 / Published: 22 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Ophthalmology)
Microscopes are used in virtually every biological and medical laboratory. Previous cultivation-based studies have suggested that direct contact with microscope eyepieces increases the risk of eye infections. To obtain a deeper insight into the microbiota on oculars, we analysed 10 recently used university microscopes. Their left oculars were used for a cultivation-based approach, while the right oculars served for massive gene sequencing. After cleaning with isopropyl alcohol, the oculars were re-sampled and analysed again. All oculars were found to be contaminated with bacteria, with a maximum load of 1.7 × 103 CFU cm−2. MALDI Biotyping revealed mainly Cutibacterium (68%), Staphylococcus (14%) and Brevibacterium (10%), with the most abundant species being Cutibacterium acnes (13%) and Staphylococcus capitis (6%). Cleaning reduced the microbial load by up to 2 log scales. Within 10 uncleaned and 5 cleaned samples, 1480 ASVs were assigned to 10 phyla and 262 genera. The dominant genera before cleaning were Cutibacterium (78%), Paracoccus (13%), Pseudomonas (2%) and Acinetobacter (1%). The bacteriota composition on the cleaned oculars was similar; however, it probably largely represented dead bacteria. In summary, used oculars were significantly contaminated with skin and environmental bacteria, including potential pathogens. Regular cleaning is highly recommended to prevent eye and skin infections. View Full-Text
Keywords: microscope; ocular; 16S rRNA gene; sequencing; Illumina; eye; hygiene; microbiota microscope; ocular; 16S rRNA gene; sequencing; Illumina; eye; hygiene; microbiota
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Fritz, B.; Schäfer, K.; März, M.; Wahl, S.; Ziemssen, F.; Egert, M. Eye-Catching Microbes—Polyphasic Analysis of the Microbiota on Microscope Oculars Verifies Their Role as Fomites. J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9, 1572.

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