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Previous studies have shown that bacteria found on public wheelchairs can spread illnesses in healthcare settings, but there is little research on whether patient-owned wheelchairs spread pathogens to the public. Wheelchairs are frequently cleaned in healthcare settings with a variety of agents. We sought to find out what pathogenic bacteria are on patient-owned wheelchairs and whether or not patients cleaned their chairs. We collected swabbed samples from the transport handles, armrests, seats, rims of the wheels, and anti-tipping bars from twelve wheelchairs included by swabbing each location for 30 seconds. Additionally, the owners of the wheelchairs filled out a brief questionnaire regarding their use and age of the wheelchair. Once samples were received, they were plated on tryptic soy agar (TSA) and incubated at 33 ̊C for 24 hours. After the incubation period, the plates were removed, examined, counted, and later identified using the Biolog GEN III Bacterial Identification System. We found that seats and armrests of adult wheelchairs consistently had the highest number of colony forming units (CFU) when counted. A pediatric wheelchair had the highest concentration of bacteria on the transport handles (where caregiver holds on) due to the patient’s inability to use their arms. A Bacterial Count Index was also established for comparison of the samples. Opportunistic pathogens such as: Bacillus pumilis/sefensis and Streptococcus salivarius ss salivarius were also identified.


This is a metadata-only record.



  • Subject
    • Biology

  • Institution
    • Dahlonega

  • Event location
    • Library Technology Center 3rd Floor Common Area

  • Event date
    • 24 March 2017

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Dr. Bialonska, Dr. Johnson, Dr. Oesterle, Dr. Robinson