Staphylococcus aureus dispersal from healthy volunteers

Katy Anne Thompson*, Vicky R. Copley, Simon Parks, James T. Walker, Allan Bennett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background Understanding Staphylococcus aureus dispersal from human carriers is vital for preventing transmission and colonization of this organism in health care settings. This study investigated the S aureus supershedder hypothesis in relation to attributes of healthy volunteers. Methods Microbial aerosol generation from volunteers was quantified within a controlled environmental chamber during walking or sitting activities. Biological air samplers were used to determine numbers of total S aureus colony-forming units disseminated during these activities. Results A total of 17 volunteers was sampled on 3 occasions. Hairstyle (long hair tied up or a shaved head) was the only significant predictor of dissemination of S aureus (5% significance level). No other significant effects were found at the 5% level. A negative binomial distribution provides the best fit with respect to S aureus. Conclusion We found that, in the context of our small sample size, hairstyle (long hair tied up or a shaved head) statistically affected levels of bacteria shed from volunteers. However, we found no evidence for "supershedders" or "cloud adults," suggesting they are at an extreme end of a continuous distribution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-264
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Infection Control
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


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