Microorganisms and Disease-causing Bacteria in Washrooms


Source: Kenyon College Department of Biology MicrobeWiki.

A bacteriological survey is commonly conducted following a disease outbreak to identify the etiology of the infection. Several studies have traced the source of infection to toilets; thus, understanding the microbiology of toilets is necessary to the prevention of bacterial infections. A study was conducted in which 130 washrooms from various premises were sampled to characterize the bacterial community and infection “hotspots”. Human feces contain large populations of enteric facultative anaerobic bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Enterococcus faecalis.

Disease Transmission
Methods of infection reported include direct inhalation and ingestion, as well as through the contaminated environment via the surface-to-hand-to-mouth contact. Microorganisms have been recovered in large enough numbers on various surfaces of the washroom such that all these methods of infection are possible.

The release of microorganisms into the air is most likely immediately after first flushing, i.e. the concentration of bacteria recovered from air samples is greatest. Even though each subsequent flush allowed a 2 to 3-log reduction in the concentration of microbes, it caused a further dissemination of airborne particles.

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Martinisko, R., inventor U.S. Patent Pending, 2012.