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Can Whipple's Disease Be Transmitted by Gastroscopes?

  • Bernard La Scola (a1), Jean-Marc Rolain (a1), Max Maurin (a1) and Didier Raoult (a1)

To determine whether disinfection protocols currently used for gastroscopes are effective against cultures of Tropheryma whipplei.


The bactericidal activity of 2% glutaraldehyde and two peracetic acids on the Twist-Marseille strain of T. whipplei grown in cell monolayers was determined.


Two patients who were diagnosed as having Whipple's disease 3 years after they had had intestinal biopsies.


The disinfectants reduced bacteria by approximately 2 log10 to 3 log10 after 5 to 60 minutes of contact.


The bactericidal activity of a disinfectant is usually considered significant if it causes a 5 log10 or greater reduction in viable bacterial titers. Disinfecting gastroscopes with 2% glutaraldehyde or peracetic acids for 20 minutes may be insufficient to prevent transmission of T. whipplei on the instruments or stop false-positive results on polymerase chain reaction.

Corresponding author
Unité des Rickettsies, CNRS UMR 6020, Faculté de médecine, 27 Boulevard Jean Moulin, 13385 Marseille Cedex 05, France
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Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology
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  • EISSN: 1559-6834
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