Detection of pathogenic micro-organisms on children's hands and toys during play

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This study aimed to determine if the children's leisure activities impact the presence of pathogens on their hands and toys.

Methods & Results:

To assess the microbiological hazard in playground areas, a pilot study that included 12 children was conducted. We then conducted an intervention study; children's hands and toys were washed before playing. Faecal coliforms, pathogenic bacteria and Giardia lamblia were quantified by membrane filtration, selective media and flotation techniques, respectively; rotavirus, hepatitis A and rhinovirus by RT-PCR. Pilot study results revealed faecal contamination on children's hands and toys after playing on sidewalks and in public parks. Pathogenic bacteria, hepatitis A and G. lamblia on children's hands were also found. In the intervention study, Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella pneumoniae were found on children's hands at concentrations up to 2·5 × 104 and 1 × 104 CFU hands−1, respectively. E. coli and Kl. pneumoniae were detected on toys (2·4 × 103 and 2·7 × 104 CFU toy−1, respectively). Salmonella spp, Serratia spp and G. lamblia cysts were also present on toys.


Children's play activities influence microbial presence on hands and toys; the transfer seems to occur in both ways.

Significance and Impact of the Study:

Control strategy needs to be implemented to protect children from infectious diseases.

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