Bacterial and fungal isolation from face masks under the COVID-19 pandemic; 'we found several pathogenic microbes; Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus saprophyticus, Aspergillus, and Microsporum.'

by Paul Alexander

Park et al.: 'We propose that immunocompromised people should avoid repeated use of masks to prevent microbial infection.'

‘In this study, we demonstrated the associations between several factors and microbial contaminations of face masks commonly used worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although some of our findings were what we had anticipated, there were several unpredicted findings, which need to be addressed as essential hygiene issues. In Table 1, we summarized the major findings and showed the results with statistical differences in bold (P < 0.05). The colony counts of face masks were higher in bacteria than in fungi; the bacterial and fungal colony counts were higher on the face-side and outer-side, respectively. The longer duration of mask usage correlated with increases in the fungal colony counts but not the bacterial colony counts. We also found that non-woven masks had fewer fungi than other mask types on the outer-side. Although the bacterial colony counts were comparable in all mask types, those on the face-side were lower in females than in males.’

The study involved 109 participants ages 21 to 22 years and who were asked about the type and duration of face mask usage and their lifestyle habits. Bacteria as well as fungi were then collected from the three types of utilized masks i) gauze, ii) polyurethane, and iii) non-woven, these worn between September and October 2020.