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ASSOCIATION BETWEEN ANTS (HYMENOPTERA: FORMICIDAE) AND PATHOGENIC BACTERIA IN FIVE HOSPITALS IN THE CITY OF PELOTAS, STATE OF RIO GRANDE DO SUL, BRAZIL

ABSTRACT

The aim of the present study was to verify the occurrence of ants in 5 hospitals in the city of Pelotas, analyzing their seasonality and identifying associated pathogenic bacteria. For this, 2 baits were used, one containing honey, sugar and the earthworm Eisenia foetida. and another containing Coqueiro® brand sardines. Both baits were fixed close to the floor skirtings in 19 to 21 sectors in each hospital (99 sectors in total), and collected after 24h. The study was developed over the seasons of 2008 and 2009, for a total of 792 sampling points. A total of 7 ant species were found, distributed among 13 of the 99 sectors sampled (13.1%). Summer was the season with the highest percentage of specimens gathered, 57.6%, with the lowest number in the winter, 9.1%. A total of 28 ant samples were aseptically collected, from which 25 (89.3%) showed the occurrence of pathogenic bacteria. Enterobacteriaceae were found on 17 ant samples, followed by Staphylococcus epidermidis and Staphylococcus saprophyticus in 13 and 9 samples, respectively. Furthermore, ants from 20 sampling points showed the occurrence of more than one bacteria species, the maximum being 5. It was concluded that the ants are important carriers of pathogenic bacteria in hospitals, and must be controlled in order to avoid a higher occurrence of nosocomial infections. Moreover, attention must be given to the ant management in the external areas of the hospitals, where the colonies of most of the specimens collected are located.

KEY WORDS
Nosocomial infection; urban ants; tramp ants; public health

Instituto Biológico Av. Conselheiro Rodrigues Alves, 1252 - Vila Mariana - São Paulo - SP, 04014-002 - São Paulo - SP - Brazil
E-mail: arquivos@biologico.sp.gov.br