Fomites

A fomes (pronounced /ˈfmz/) or fomite (/ˈfmt/) is any object or substance capable of carrying infectious organisms, such as germs or parasites, and hence transferring them from one individual to another. Skin cells, hair, clothing, and bedding are common hospital sources of contamination.

Fomites are associated particularly with hospital acquired infections (HAI), as they are possible routes to pass pathogens between patients. Stethoscopes and neckties are two such fomites associated with health care providers. Basic hospital equipment, such as IV drip tubes, catheters, and life support equipment can also be carriers, when the pathogens form biofilms on the surfaces. Careful sterilization of such objects prevents cross-infection.

Researchers have discovered that smooth (non-porous) surfaces (e.g. door knobs) transmit bacteria and viruses better than porous materials (e.g. paper money).[1][2] The reason is that porous, especially fibrous, materials absorb and trap the contagion, making it harder to contract through simple touch.

Etymology

The Italian scholar and physician Girolamo Fracastoro appears to have first used the Latin word fomes, meaning tinder, in this sense in his essay on contagion, De Contagione et Contagiosis Morbis published in 1546:[3]
"By fomes I mean clothes, wooden objects, and things of that sort, which though not themselves corrupted can, nevertheless, preserve the original germs of the contagion and infect by means of these..."[4]

English usage of "fomes", pronounced /ˈfmz/, is documented since 1658.[5] The English word "fomite", which has been in use since 1859, is an incorrect back-formation from the plural "fomites" (originally borrowed from the Latin plural fōmĭtēs [ˈfoːmɪteːs] of fōmĕs [ˈfoːmeːs]).[6] The English-language pronunciation of "fomites" is /ˈfmts/, while the singular, "fomite", is pronounced /ˈfmt/.[6][7]

Popular culture

Fomites play a conspicuous role in Steven Soderbergh's 2011 film Contagion about a pandemic.[8]

See also

References

External links

  • discussion on Language Log
  • General characteristics and roles of fomites in viral transmission
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.