A Widespread Problem with Serious Impact
From humans to the environment, biofilms are naturally occurring bacterial colonies that attach to surfaces. This widespread prevalence can cause problems for humans and the natural and industrial systems on which they rely.
According to the US National Institutes of Health, biofilms account for over 80 percent of microbial infections in the human body.18 In fact, chronic biofilm infections can affect every organ system in the human body, including skin.13 With the continuing rise in antimicrobial resistance, healthcare providers have placed a greater emphasis on correctly diagnosing and managing biofilm-associated infections, especially in non-healing chronic wounds.
Biofilm proliferation has been attributed to:
• Delayed healing in chronic wounds32,33
• Infected burns32
• Surgical site infections & OR procedures
• Periodontal disease and tooth decay17
• Otitis media19
• Chronic sinusitis34
• Urinary tract infections
• Cystic fibrosis
• Bacterial vaginosis
Chronic wounds represent one of the most powerful examples of how biofilms can negatively affect human health. Biofilms are present in over 90% of chronic wounds, but less than 6% of acute wounds. With the explosion of diabetes and vascular disease, the world is seeing a rise in untreatable chronic wounds, resulting in an increased burden that impacts patients’ quality of life.12,15,23 Collectively these chronic wounds contribute to significant morbidity, mortality, and increased healthcare expenditures.14
Biofilms have been known to form on surfaces in hospital rooms, on medical devices, surgical instruments, and other healthcare tools, posing potential infection risks.20,21