Pillows breed pests23rd June 2011
Scientists have warned that pillows and the bedroom air that surrounds them are ideal breeding grounds for bugs ranging from the superbugs MRSA and Clostridium difficile to flu, chicken pox and even leprosy.
Dr Arthur Tucker, who is principal clinical scientist at Barts’ vascular unit, warned that while some may only be found in hospitals or in a tropical climate, others may be found in the family home.
His warning follows a study of pillows used by patients in hospitals run by Barts and the London NHS Trust where tests revealed high levels of ‘living’ contamination on the outside of the pillows.
Contamination varied from E.coli to the staphylococcus hominus bug which can cause severe infections in people with weakened immune systems and other germs that could cause respiratory and urinary tract infections.
Dr Tucker said: “The presence of these bugs means that they can and will be passed to patients.”
He found SleepAngel pillows, made by the Irish firm Gabriel Scientific, were less likely to be contaminated on the surface than the standard NHS ones.
In addition to hospital pillows being affected, Dr Tucker warned that it could be a problem in the home too and that up to a third of the weight of a household pillow could be made up of bugs, dead skin and house dust mites and their faeces.
However, leading bacteriologist Professor Hugh Pennington urged people not to worry about their pillows and pointed out that they will simply contain the bugs they have already.
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