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.