Journal of Community Health

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 247–267 | Cite as

The Role of the Home Environment in the Transmission of Infectious Diseases

  • Lori J. Kagan
  • Allison E. Aiello
  • Elaine LarsonEmail author


The purpose of this paper is to examine current health care literature (1980–2000) regarding the microbiology of the home environment, to summarize evidence of transmission within the home, and to assess effectiveness of cleaning practices and products. The home environment, particularly the kitchen and bathroom, serves as a reservoir of large numbers of microorganisms, particularly Enterobacteriacae,and infectious disease transmission has been demonstrated to occur in 6–60% of households in which one member is ill. Current food preparation and cleaning practices provide multiple opportunities for intra-household member spread. Routine cleaning is often sufficient, but in cases of household infection, may not adequately reduce environmental contamination. The effectiveness of disinfectants varies considerably and depends on how they are used as well as their intrinsic efficacy. The behavioral aspects of infection prevention in the home (e.g., foodhandling and cleaning practices) warrant increased public attention and education.

hygiene foodborne illness disinfection 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lori J. Kagan
    • 1
  • Allison E. Aiello
    • 1
  • Elaine Larson
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Joseph L. Mailman School of Public HealthColumbia UniversityNew York
  2. 2.Department of Epidemiology, Joseph L. Mailman School of Public HealthColumbia University School of NursingNew York

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