A study to investigate the importance of purses as fomites


Department of Health Sciences, University of Mauritius, Mauritius


Background: Purses hardly get washed and are discarded, mostly, when they are no longer usable. This study aims to investigate whether women's and men's purses can serve as fomites.
Materials and Methods: A total of 145 purses from 80  women and  65 men were swabbed and cultured. The bacteria were identified by gram staining and with the standard biochemical tests.
Results: A total of 138 purses (95.2%) showed bacterial contamination, out of which 49.4% had a single growth and 50.7% had mixed growth. The material of the purse was found to affect bacterial growth. Synthetic purses showed higher mean colony-forming unit (CFU) counts (P < 0.05). Micrococcus (64.8%) and coagulase-negative Staphylococcus (64.1%) were the most common bacteria isolated, followed by Bacillus spp. (13.8%). Micrococcus was found with a higher prevalence on men's purses, while Bacillus spp. were more prominent on women's purses (P < 0.05). The difference between the rates of bacterial growth from the purses of women and of men was found to be statistically significant (57.2% and 44.7%; P < 0.05). Furthermore, the mean CFU count was higher for men's purses than for women's purses (P < 0.05).
Conclusion: Purses from both men and women are potential vectors for transmission of diseases across the community. The use of synthetic purses should be discouraged, as they contribute to  increased bacterial colonization.


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