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When compared to surgical environments of the 19th Century, today's hospitals are paradigms of sterility. The bacterial counts from the air of uninhabited rooms are now virtually nil. This count begins to rise as soon as human activity begins, with levels of contamination being proportionate to the activity.

Although the question remains as to the pathogenicity of these organisms, they cannot be ignored as potential infectors and may well be of particular importance in patients in whom host resistance has been diminished for whatever cause.

Much has been written in the literature about the role of airborne contamination in surgical infection. Many methods have been used in an attempt to cope with the potential vectors, including ultra—violet irradiation and most recently the controversial laminar flow rooms.

Researchers have found that bacteria shed from human skin constitute a major portion of those found in the air of the surgical suite. This dissertation describes a method of reducing the number of bacteria transferred to the environment from these sources. The approach uses a densely woven material fabricated into an occlusive design garment which encapsulates those areas of the body identified as the primary source of shedding of skin bacteria. The tests conducted demonstrated that an occlusive design garment, when worn properly, significantly reduces the bacterial air count.

The elimination of these sources of environmental bacterial contamination may well be vital to the safe performance of many surgical procedures, and to the prevention of exogenous infection in unusually susceptible patients.