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Pediatrics. 1999 Jan;103(1):E1.

The home environment and salmonellosis in children.

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Department of Pediatrics, Arkansas Children's Hospital, Little Rock, AR 72202-3591, USA.



To explore the role of foods and the home environment in the development of Salmonella infections in infants and children.


Home investigations were conducted of patients younger than 4 years of age infected with Salmonella. Cultures were obtained from foods, persons residing in the home, animals/pets/insects, and environmental sources. Like serotypes encountered in the index patients and isolates from the home underwent typing with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis.


Home inspections were conducted in approximately 66% of eligible homes on the average of 3.4 days after the confirmation of the Salmonella isolate. A total of 526 cultures from 50 homes were obtained from foods (120), household members (73), refrigerators (52), water (47), countertops (46), soil (42), can-openers (36), vacuum cleaners (34), animals/pets/insects (26), and others (50). Isolates with a serotype identical to those in the index patient were found in 16 homes, 3 of which included an isolate of a second serotype, and an isolate of a different serotype was recovered in 3 homes. The pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns of the isolates of identical serotypes from the subjects and from their environment were indistinguishable in all but 2 patients. Among isolates of the same serotype encountered in different homes, all patterns were different. The identical serotype was found in multiple locations (4), dirt surrounding front doors (4), household members (3), vacuum cleaner (1), animals/pets/insects (1), and a refrigerator shelf (1).


These data illustrate the importance of the child's environment in the development of salmonellosis. Clinicians should concentrate on educating the parents about the environmental spread of Salmonella. Contaminated foods in the home play a less significant role in the infection of infants and children.

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