Fecal Contamination of Food, Water, Hands, and Kitchen Utensils at the Household Level in Rural Areas of Peru

Article Abstract

The study described in this article evaluated sources of contamination of children’s food and drinking water in rural households in the highlands of Peru. Samples from children’s meals, drinking water, kitchen utensils, and caregivers’ and children’s hands were analyzed for total coliforms and E. coli counts using Petrifilm EC. Thermotolerant coliforms in water were measured using DelAgua test kits while diarrheagenic E. coli were identified using polymerase chain reaction methods (PCR). Thermotolerant coliforms were found in 48% of all water samples. E. coli was found on 23% of hands, 16% of utensils, and 4% of meals. Kitchen cloths were the item most frequently contaminated with total coliforms (89%) and E. coli (42%).  Diarrheagenic E. coli was found in 33% of drinking water, 27% of meals, and on 23% of kitchen utensils. These findings indicate a need to develop hygiene interventions that focus on specific kitchen utensils and hand washing practices, to reduce the contamination of food, water, and the kitchen environment in these rural settings. 

Speaker / Author: 
Ana I. Gil, MSc
Claudio F. Lanata, MPH, MD
Stella M. Hartinger, MSc
Daniel Mäusezahl, PhD
Beatriz Padilla, MSc
Theresa J. Ochoa, MD
Michelle Lozada
Ines Pineda
Hector Verastegui
Page #: 
Publication Month: 
EH Topics: