Study Shows Potential Pathogens Cling to Hospital Privacy Curtains; Contamination Occurs Quickly after Laundering

PurThread Technologies Working to Give Hospitals Effective, Easy Solution to Problem

CHICAGO, IL – SEPTEMBER 17, 2011 – Within a week of being laundered, 92 percent of hospital privacy curtains were contaminated with potentially pathogenic bacteria such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant S. aureus) and VRE (vancomycin-resistant enterococcus), a new study performed at the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City, IA reports.

The study, titled, “Hospital Privacy Curtains are Frequently and Rapidly Contaminated with Potentially Pathogenic Bacteria,” adds weight to the growing recognition that soft surfaces in the healthcare environment can be a hazardous source of the bacteria leading to healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), which afflict nearly one out of twenty people who spend the night in a U.S. hospital each year.

“Nearly everyone who interacts with patients touches the privacy curtains, whether it’s healthcare workers, visitors, or the flower courier,” said Kathryn Bowsher, President and CEO, PurThread Technologies, Inc. “The University of Iowa investigators chose to focus on privacy curtains as one aspect of the healthcare environment that contributes to the high infection rates because curtains are the most commonly touched soft surfaces in hospitals. This discovery fills an important gap in research on soft surfaces in general.”

Funded by an unrestricted grant from PurThread Technologies, Inc., an antimicrobial technology company focused on textile products for use in infection prevention, this study is being presented during ICAAC ( the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy) in Chicago at an 11:15 a.m. poster session on Monday, September 19. Visit for more information about the University of Iowa study.

The study demonstrates the need for interventions to reduce bacterial contamination of soft surfaces in hospital settings. The immediate action healthcare workers can take today is to wash their hands after touching privacy curtains and before touching the patient.

Another possible solution to the problem of privacy curtain contamination would be to integrate proven antimicrobial elements directly into the curtain fabrics themselves.

“Examining the curtains is a starting point for addressing soft surfaces as part of the multi-layered problem of HAIs,” added Bowsher. “The study bolsters PurThread’s efforts to produce textile products such as our privacy curtains, made with our proprietary antimicrobial technology, that contribute to a cleaner patient environment by reducing the risk of touch contamination associated with HAIs.

“As more research in this area emerges, we plan to continue working with hospitals to set a new standard for infection prevention practices with regard to soft surfaces.”

About PurThread

PurThread Technologies Inc. employs proprietary, award-winning technology to embed Kodak’s powerful EPA-registered antimicrobial silver into the core of fiber. As a result, PurThread yarns intrinsically protect fabric from the effects of microbial contamination and reduce odor-causing bacteria, mold, mildew and fungus. Products made with PurThread range from healthcare textiles, such as privacy curtains, scrubs and lab coats, to freshness products, such as socks and performance athletic wear. The EPA has not yet reviewed any public health claims for PurThread products. PurThread yarns are 100% Made in the USA.

For more information, visit