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

T. Martínez-Bastidas, N. Castro-del Campo, K. D. Mena, N. Castro-del Campo, J. León-Félix, Charles P Gerba, C. Chaidez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Aims: 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. Conclusion: 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1668-1675
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Microbiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014



  • Children
  • Hands
  • Human pathogens
  • Outdoor activities
  • Playgrounds
  • Toys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Biotechnology

Cite this

Martínez-Bastidas, T., Castro-del Campo, N., Mena, K. D., Castro-del Campo, N., León-Félix, J., Gerba, C. P., & Chaidez, C. (2014). Detection of pathogenic micro-organisms on children's hands and toys during play. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 116(6), 1668-1675.