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An International Survey of Bacterial Contamination and Householders' Knowledge, Attitudes and Perceptions of Hygiene

This prospective, multinational study was conducted in 20 homes in eight cities or regions in different coun­tries to determine the level of microbiological contami­nation of common surfaces and items, and investigate the attitudes and perceptions of householders towards cleaning and hygiene.

Environmental Health Practitioners took eight standardised swabs in each home. The swabs were cultured for a  range of micro-organisms. Householders (n=160) were also interviewed regarding their cleaning habits and percep­tions of hygiene. Overall, 28% of surfaces or items tested in the study had ‘moderate bacterial growth’ or ‘heavy bacterial growth’.

Kitchen cloths were the most contaminated items, with 86% having moderate bacterial growth or heavy bac­terial growth; kitchen taps were the second most contami­nated items, with 52% having moderate bacterial growth or heavy bacterial growth. High proportions (>50%) of kitchen cloths contained coliforms, Enterobacteriaceae and Pseu­domonas spp. The visual appearance of surfaces and items frequently (30%) did not correspond to their level of contami­nation with micro-organisms.

The majority of householders (65%) cleaned to make the house ‘look clean, smell nice and remove germs’; however, householders’ perceptions of the cleanliness of their homes frequently did not correspond to microbiological reality. In conclusion, further research and education are needed regarding hygiene in the home.

Author: Oxford J, Berezin EN, Courvalin P, Dwyer D, Exner M, Jana LA, Kaku M, Lee C, Letlape K, Low DE, Mandani TA, Rubino JR, Saini N, Schoub BD, Signorelli C, Tierno PM, Zhong X

Citation: 2013 14: 132 Journal of Infection Prevention , DOI: 10.1177/1757177413483346

Published: 01/07/2013

Publication Type: Journal article

Publisher: Journal of Infection Prevention