A critical evaluation of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and other bacteria of medical interest on commonly touched household surfaces in relation to household demographics

Am J Infect Control. 2009 Aug;37(6):447-53. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2008.12.001. Epub 2009 Apr 9.


Background: We sought to characterize and quantify bacteria of medical interest on commonly touched household surfaces and to evaluate predictors such as employment, day care attendance, and presence of infants and pets.

Methods: A convenience sample of 35 homes was recruited from the metro-Boston area, and up to 32 surfaces were sampled in kitchens, bathrooms, and living areas.

Results: Highest bacterial counts were associated with wet sites including hand/skin contact surfaces such as the tub, kitchen sink, and faucet handles. Surfaces were found to be contaminated with the bacteria of medical interest including species of Enterobacteriaceae, Pseudomonas, methicillin-sensitive Staphyloccus aureus (MSSA), and methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus (MRSA).

Conclusion: A number of hand/skin contact surfaces were found to be frequently contaminated with one or more of the bacteria of medical interest. The presence of a cat in the home was found to be a strong predictor for the isolation of MRSA. This study provides further insight about microorganisms of medical interest on surfaces in American homes and the impact of factors that can influence bacterial contamination. The study may indicate that cleaning in private homes should be directed to the areas pinpointed by the study as very rich in bacteria of potential medical importance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Boston
  • Cats
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Demography
  • Dogs
  • Enterobacteriaceae / isolation & purification*
  • Environmental Microbiology*
  • Family Characteristics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Pseudomonas / isolation & purification*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / isolation & purification*
  • Young Adult