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Life span of germs

Question
Dear experts,

My boyfriend is a physiotherapist who also treats CF patients, and we are now wondering how long MRSA or Burkholderia cepacia can survive in a (healthy) lung in case he catches one of those two germs? We are afraid he could transmit the germs onto me.

Kind regards.
Answer
Dear questioner,

The two germs you mention normally do not pose a problem for healthy people. If your boyfriend sticks to the necessary hygienic rules, there is only a very small chance for him to get colonized himself. Also, healthy lungs become colonized only very rarely. For MRSA, colonization is most likely to happen on the hands, and this way other body surface areas or mucous membranes can get affected as well. The germ particularly likes to stay in the frontal nasal area. With Burkholderia cepacia too, the risk for a physiotherapist to get colonized is rather low as long as he/she observes hygienic rules and disinfects any surfaces and objects colonized patients came into contact with.

Unfortunately I cannot tell from your question whether you are a CF patient yourself. However, even if that is the case, transmission of these germs, which pose a problem for CF patients, should not play a particular role if you adhere to good hygienic standards.

I hope this answer was helpful.

Kind regards,
Barbara Kahl
15.11.2011