Microbial contamination in kitchens and bathrooms of rural Cambodian village households

Lett Appl Microbiol. 2011 Feb;52(2):144-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1472-765X.2010.02978.x. Epub 2010 Dec 30.


Aims: To quantify microbial contamination on kitchen and bathroom surfaces (fomites) in rural Cambodian homes and to compare these concentrations to similar data from the United States and Japan.

Methods and results: This study monitored the numbers of faecal coliforms (i.e. thermotolerant coliforms), total coliforms, Escherichia coli and heterotrophic plate count bacteria on household surfaces in a rural village of Cambodia. Faecal coliform levels in Cambodia were highest on moist locations such as the plastic ladle used for sink water, the toilet seat surface and the cutting board surface with 100-fold higher levels of faecal coliform bacteria than E. coli and 100-fold higher levels of faecal coliforms than the US and Japanese studies.

Conclusions: A single public health intervention barrier, such as an improved latrine, is only partially effective for household sanitation. For complete sanitation, multiple environmental barriers may be necessary. These barriers occur in a house constructed with easily washable surfaces, a chlorinated water distribution system, house climate control and cleaning product availability.

Significance and impact of the study: Results of this study can be used to emphasize the importance of increasing household environmental sanitation barriers.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Cambodia
  • Escherichia coli / isolation & purification
  • Fomites / microbiology*
  • Housing
  • Japan
  • Rural Population
  • Sanitation
  • Toilet Facilities*
  • United States