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article imagePathogens lurking in children's toys

By Tim Sandle     Jan 4, 2014 in Health
Two common bacteria that cause colds, ear infections, strep throat and more serious infections have been found to survive for long periods on children's toys and books, according to a new study.
Pathogens Streptococcus pneumoniae and Streptococcus pyogenes persist on surfaces for far longer than has previously been appreciated.
S. pneumoniae is a bacterium that can be a major cause of pneumonia. Despite the name, the microorganism also causes many other types of pneumococcal infections. These invasive pneumococcal diseases include acute sinusitis, otitis media, conjunctivitis, meningitis, bacteremia, sepsis, osteomyelitis, septic arthritis, endocarditis, peritonitis, pericarditis, cellulitis, and brain abscess.
S. pyogenes is the cause of many important human diseases, ranging from mild superficial skin infections to life-threatening systemic diseases.
Anders Hakansson, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences undertook a study where various objects that children play with were screened for the pathogenic bacteria at a day center.
At the day care center, four out of five stuffed toys tested positive for S. pneumonaie and several surfaces, such as cribs, tested positive for S. pyogenes, even after being cleaned. The testing was done just prior to the center opening in the morning so it had been many hours since the last human contact.
The findings suggest that additional precautions may be necessary to prevent infections, especially in settings such as schools, daycare centers and hospitals.
The study was undertaken at the University at Buffalo and the findings were published in the journal Infection and Immunity, in a paper titled "Biofilm Formation enhances Fomite Survival of S. pneumoniae and S. pyogenes".
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