The occurrence of influenza A virus on household and day care center fomites



      The goal of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of influenza A virus on surfaces in day care and home settings to better assess the potential role of fomites in the transmission of influenza.


      During two and a half years, 218 fomites were tested from 14 different day care centers. Ten different fomites from bathrooms, kitchens and play areas were sampled. In addition, 92 fomites from eight different homes with children were tested over 6 months. Fourteen different household fomites from bathrooms, kitchens and living areas were sampled. Influenza A viral RNA was detected using reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction.


      Influenza was detected on 23% of day care fomites sampled during the fall and 53% of fomites sampled during the spring. Spring and fall sample data was determined to be statistically different at the 0.05 α-level by Chi-square analysis P<0 and Fisher's Exact test P=0.00002. There was no statistical difference found between moist and dry fomites (Chi square P=0.13998). No influenza was detected on home fomites sampled during the summer. In contrast, influenza was detected on 59% of home fomites sampled during March.


      Influenza A virus was detected on over 50% of the fomites tested in homes and day care centers during influenza season.


      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Journal of Infection
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


      1. Influenza: the disease [online]. 2003 [cited 2004 July 29]. Available from: URL:

        • Class E.C.J.
        • Osterhaus A.D.M.E.
        • Beek R.
        • et al.
        Human influenza A H5N1 related to a highly pathogenic avian influenza virus.
        Lancet. 1998; 351: 472-477
      2. Transmission of influenza A viruses between animals and people [online]. 2004 [cited 2004 July 29]. Available from: URL:

        • Jong J.C.
        • Rimmelzwaan G.F.
        • Fouchier R.A.M.
        • Osterhaus A.D.M.E.
        Influenza virus: a master of metamorphosis.
        J Infect. 2000; 40: 218-228
        • Goldman D.A.
        Transmission of viral respiratory infections in the home.
        Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2000; 19: 97-102
        • Alford R.H.
        • Kasle J.A.
        • Gerone P.J.
        • Knight V.
        Human influenza resulting from aerosol inhalation.
        Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1966; 122: 800-804
        • England B.
        Gerba C.P. Goyal S.M. Detection of viruses on fomites. Methods in environmental virology: microbiology series. vol. 7. Marcel Dekker Inc., New York1982: 179-191
        • Schulman J.L.
        • Kilbourne E.D.
        Airborne transmission of influenza virus infection in mice.
        Nature. 1962; 195: 1129-1130
        • Barker J.
        • Stevens D.
        • Bloomfield S.F.
        Spread and prevention of some common viral infections in community facilities and domestic homes.
        J Appl Microbiol. 2001; 91: 7-21
        • Bean B.
        • Moore B.M.
        • Sterner B.
        • Petersen R.N.
        • Gerding D.N.
        • Balfour H.H.
        Survival of influenza viruses in environmental surfaces.
        J Infect Dis. 1982; 146: 47-51
        • Ansari S.A.
        • Sattar S.A.
        • Springthrope G.A.
        • Wells G.A.
        • Tostowaryk W.
        Rotavirus survival on human hands and transfer of infectious virus to animate and non-porous inanimate surfaces.
        J Clin Microbiol. 1988; 26: 1513-1518
        • Rzezutka A.
        • Cook N.
        Survival of human enteric virus in the environment and food.
        FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2004; ([in press]): 1-14
        • Aitken C.
        • Jefferies D.J.
        Nosocomial spread of viral disease.
        Clin Microbiol Rev. 2001; 14: 528-546
        • Morens D.M.
        • Rash V.M.
        Lessons from a nursing home outbreak of influenza A.
        Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 1995; 16: 275-280
        • Wright K.E.
        • Wilson G.A.R.
        • Novosad D.
        • Dimock C.
        • Werber J.M.
        Typing and subtyping of influenza viruses in clinical samples by PCR.
        J Clin Microbiol. 1995; 33: 1180-1184
        • Vabet A.
        • Guillaume S.
        • Bruno L.
        • et al.
        Comparison of three non-nested RT-PCR for the detection of influenza A virus.
        J Clin Virol. 2000; 17: 167-175
      3. Infectious disease epidemiology, Arizona influenza activity. Arizona Department of Health Services [online]. 2004 [cited 2004 July 20]. Available from: URL:

        • Couch R.B.
        Medical microbiology.
        University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston1995 (p. 1–22)
        • Reiling J.
        Dissemination of bacteria from the mouth during speaking, coughing and otherwise.
        J Am Med Assoc. 2000; 284: 156
      4. Laurance J. What is this disease and why is it so deadly [online]. 2003 [cited 2004 Aug 2]. Available from: URL:

      5. Sneezing [online]. 2004 [cited 2004 Aug 2]. Available from: URL:

      6. The spread of avian influenza virus among birds [online]. 2004 [cited 2004 July 29]. Available from: URL:

        • Suggs J.C.
        • McCurdy T.
        • Cohen Hubal E.A.
        • Moya J.
        Frequency of mouthing behavior in young children.
        J Exp Anal Environ Epidemiol. 2002; 12: 259-264
        • Juberg D.R.
        • Alfano K.
        • Coughlin R.J.
        • Thompson K.M.
        An observation study of object mouth behavior by young children.
        Pediatrics. 2001; 107: 135-142
      7. Shaheen E. Microbiotest Inc Pre-saturated or impregnated towelette virucidal effectiveness test-influenza virus [online]. E-mail report to Charles Gerba ([email protected]) 2004 [cited 2004 May 25].