Microbial biofilms may pose a public health problem for persons requiring indwelling medical devices. The microorganisms in biofilms are difficult or impossible to treat with antimicrobial agents; detachment from the device may result in infection. Although medical devices may differ widely in design and use characteristics, specific factors determine susceptibility of a device to microbial contamination and biofilm formation. For example, duration of use, number and type of organisms to which the device is exposed, flow rate and composition of the medium in or on the device, device material construction, and conditioning films on the device all may influence biofilm formation. More effective biofilm control strategies should result as researchers develop more reliable techniques for measuring biofilms and better model systems for evaluating control strategies. A clearer picture of the importance of biofilms in public health should also result as the role of biofilms in antimicrobial-drug resistance is investigated and the link is established between biofilm contamination and patient infection.
Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2001;7(2) © 2001 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)