262504 A survey of student cleaning practices, food safety behaviors and bacteria of medical interest in college dormitories

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Elizabeth Scott, PhD , Biology & Undergraduate Program in Public Health, Simmons College, Boston, MA
Nancie H. Herbold, EdD, RD , Department of Nutrition, Simmons College, Boston, MA
There is a growing interest in the role played by the inanimate indoor living environment in the transmission of bacterial and viral community-based infectious disease. With regard to college student dormitories, there is the potential for transmission of infections such as Norovirus, influenza A and CA-MRSA. It has been estimated that contact with contaminated surfaces may account for 31% of the infection transmission risk for influenza. In our survey of 30 dormitory rooms, bacterial data indicated that the highest counts were found at hand and food contact surfaces such as fridge handles and interiors, microwave handles and TV remotes. High counts were also recorded from the floor and personal towels. Questionnaire data revealed that 37% of students had nor cleaned their dorm room during the past week, 70%-80% never clean hand contact surfaces, 56% never clean the refrigerator interior. Overall, communal showers were found to be the most heavily contaminated surface in the dorm and fecal coliforms were isolated from shower floors and washbasins. Other bacteria included streptococci, Staph aureus and MRSA. With regard to food safety, a range of high risk foods were stored in dorm room student fridges and students used unreliable parameters for decision making about when to consider these foods unsafe. At the same time, 46% of refrigerators were found to be operating at a temperature > 10o C. This study suggests that there is a need to offer college students information about appropriate cleaning and food safety practices.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Evaluate the potential bacterial infection risk in student dorm environments. 2. Identify the sites and surfaces with high bacterial counts and/or bacteria of medical interest in student dorm rooms. 3. Describe student knowledge on food safety. 4. Discuss the need for offering college students information on appropriate cleaning and food safety practices

Keywords: College Students, Indoor Environment

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal or co-principal of many funded grants focusing on the bacteriology of the living environment. Among my scientific interests has been the development of a strategy of targeted hygiene practice to reduce the the risk of transmission of bacterial pathoigens via fomites in home and community settings.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.