Figure Scanning electron micrograph of a bacterial biofilm on an orthopedic screw


What are bacterial biofilms, and why are they important in small animal practice?   


A bacterial biofilm is a complex community of bacteria embedded within a self-produced matrix (ie, slime).1,2 An example of a bacterial biofilm is the slimy surface that accumulates in water bowls or the plaque that forms on teeth. In natural environments, bacteria exist in 2 states: the planktonic (ie, free-floating or nonbiofilm-embedded) state or the biofilm-embedded (ie, adhered to a surface) state.2 The planktonic state is important in the replication and growth of bacteria; however, bacteria have a tendency to congregate together and adhere to a surface.2 The biofilm-embedded state enables this congregation and adherence, which also allows for protection from harsh environmental conditions.2 Bacterial biofilms have been associated with persistent surgical site, wound, and urinary tract infections.2  

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