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Microbios. 1996;88(354):35-43.

The use of microbiology in the study of hygiene behaviour.

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Health Research Institute, Sheffield Hallam University, Great Britain.


Faecal indicator bacteria have been used to measure levels of hygiene in a variety of settings. This paper describes a study in northern Botswana which used the isolation of faecal indicator bacteria in combination with other quantitative and qualitative techniques to gain information regarding hygiene behaviour. The microbiological samples included, samples from stored drinking water and water sources; eating plates; infant feeding bottles; dishcloths and the fingertips of carers and children. Water was usually clean at source but contaminated after storage. Presumptive faecal coliforms contaminated 31% of the eating plates, 29% of the dishcloths and 40% of the infant feeding bottles. Many of the presumptive faecal coliform isolates were not identified as Escherichia coli, indicating the need for further research into methodologies appropriate for isolating E. coli in tropical climates.

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