The domestic environment was investigated for the presence of viruses
and body fluids that
may contain viruses. A range of surfaces in 39 homes (17 visited on 2 occasions)
by swabbing and analysed using cell culture, reverse transcription polymerase
for enteroviral RNA, haemoglobin as a marker for blood, amylase as an indicator
saliva and sweat, and protein as an indicator of general hygiene. Haemoglobin
was found on
1·9% of surfaces sampled and of the positive samples 30% were from
handled. Amylase (>5 U/l) was found in 29·3% of samples tested.
Protein was found in
97·8% of samples tested. Enteroviral RNA, indicating the presence
of virus, was detected in 3
out of 448 samples tested; they were from a tap handle, telephone handpiece
and a toilet bowl.
No viruses were isolated in cell culture, however significant problems
were encountered with
bacterial and fungal contamination. This work demonstrates that only testing
samples for bacteria and ATP may not give a total view of the microbiological
problem in the
home. A range of test methods is useful to gain a broad view of the problems
of hygiene in
the home and to allow comparative studies of specific areas such as the
kitchen and bathroom.