[Danger of infection from communion cups--an underestimated risk?]

Zentralbl Hyg Umweltmed. 1998 Jun;201(2):167-88.
[Article in German]


The problem of a risk of infection from the common use of chalices has been discussed controversially in literature. Opinions were mainly based on laboratory experiments and theoretical considerations. The authors examined bacterial counts and species existing under normal conditions after communion. For this purpose, contact samples were taken from the inside and outside of chalices at the rim. Staphylococci and alpha-haemolytic streptococci were found on all chalices examined. On more than 80%, there were apathogenic micrococci, nonhaemolytic streptococci, apathogenic neisseria and apathogenic corynebacteria as well as lactobacilli and bacilli. Staphylococcus aureus was found on 26.4% of chalices. Although the risk of infection for healthy persons from a commonly used chalice can be rated as low, it should not be underestimated for persons with reduced resistance and immunocompetence, or with reduced defences as a result of therapeutic measures. From the hygienic point of view, the most favourable approaches to avoid infection would be the use of individual chalices for all participants in the communion or the immersion of wafers or bread in wine or in grape juice by the priest (intinction).

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / growth & development
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Beverages / microbiology
  • Christianity*
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Communicable Diseases / transmission*
  • Cooking and Eating Utensils*
  • Equipment Contamination
  • Food Microbiology
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Infection Control / methods
  • Risk Factors
  • Rosales
  • Wine / microbiology