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The potential spread of infection caused by aerosol contamination of surfaces after flushing a domestic toilet.

A semisolid agar carrier containing either Serratia marcesens or MS2 bacteriophage was used to contaminate the side walls and bowl water of a domestic toilet to mimic the effects of soiling after an episode of acute diarrhoea. Although a single flush reduced the level of micro-organisms in the toilet bowl water when contaminated at concentrations reflecting pathogen shedding, large numbers of micro-organisms persisted on the toilet bowl surface and in the bowl water which were disseminated into the air by further flushes. Many individuals may be unaware of the risk of air-borne dissemination of microbes when flushing the toilet and the consequent surface contamination that may spread infection within the household, via direct surface-to-hand-to mouth contact. Some enteric viruses could persist in the air after toilet flushing and infection may be acquired after inhalation and swallowing. Journal of Applied Microbiology 2005; 99: 339-347.

Author: Barker J, Jones MV

Published: 01/01/2005

Publication Type: Journal article

Publisher: Journal of Applied Microbiology