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Detection of pathogenic micro-organisms on children's hands and toys during play

Aims: This study aimed to determine if the children’s leisure activities impact the presence of pathogens on their hands and toys. Methods & Results: To assess the microbiological hazard in playground areas, a pilot study that included 12 children was conducted. We then conducted an intervention study; children’s hands and toys were washed before playing. Faecal coliforms, pathogenic bacteria and Giardia lamblia were quantified by membrane filtration, selective media and flotation techniques, respectively; rotavirus, hepatitis A and rhinovirus by RT-PCR. Pilot study results revealed faecal contamination on children’s hands and toys after playing on sidewalks and in public parks. Pathogenic bacteria, hepatitis A and G. lamblia on children’s hands were also found. In the intervention study, Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella pneumoniae were found on children’s hands at concentrations up to 2·5 X 104 and 1 X 104 CFU hands-1, respectively. E. coli and Kl. pneumoniae were detected on toys (2·4 X 103 and 2·7 X 104 CFU toy-1, respectively). Salmonella spp, Serratia spp and G. lamblia cysts were also present on toys. Conclusion: Children’s play activities influence microbial presence on hands and toys; the transfer seems to occur in both ways. Significance and Impact of the Study: Control strategy needs to be implemented to protect children from infectious diseases.

Author: Martínez-Bastidas T, Castro-del Campo N, Mena KD, León-Félix J, Gerba CP, Chaidez C

Citation: J Appl Microbiol. 2014 Jun;116(6):1668-75. doi: 10.1111/jam.12473. Epub 2014 Mar 20

Published: 19/06/2014

Publication Type: Journal article

Publisher: Journal Applied Mircrobiology