A pilot study to isolate Staphylococcus aureus and methicillin-resistant S aureus from environmental surfaces in the home

Am J Infect Control. 2008 Aug;36(6):458-60. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2007.10.012.


Background: The major sources of Staphylococcus aureus, including methicillin-resistant S aureus (MRSA), in the home are colonized or infected individuals and pets, such as cats and dogs; however, the occurrence of MRSA on surfaces in healthy homes is not well documented.

Methods: A convenience sample comprising 35 homes of health care and non-health care workers, each with a child in diapers and either a cat or dog in the home, was recruited from the Boston area between January and April 2006. In each home, a total of 32 surfaces were sampled in kitchens, bathrooms, and living areas.

Results: S aureus was found in 34 of the 35 homes (97%) and was isolated from all surfaces in 1 or more homes, with the exception of the kitchen chopping board and the child training potty. MRSA was isolated from 9 of 35 homes (26%) and was found on a variety of household surfaces, including the kitchen and bathroom sinks, countertops, kitchen faucet handle, kitchen drain, dish sponge/cloth, dish towel, tub, infant high chair tray, and pet food dish. A positive correlation was indicated for the presence of a cat and the isolation of MRSA from surfaces.

Conclusions: This study has shown the presence of MRSA at hand-contact surfaces in healthy homes. This provides further evidence for the potential for infection transmission via inanimate surfaces and underscores the need for good hygiene practice in the home.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Boston
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Environmental Microbiology*
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Methicillin Resistance*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / isolation & purification*