Minding the matrix: The importance of inoculum suspensions on finger transfer efficiency of virus

Sarah E. Abney, Amanda M. Wilson, M. Khalid Ijaz, Julie McKinney, Kelly A. Reynolds, Charles P. Gerba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: The aim of this study was to determine how the transfer efficiency of MS-2 coliphage from the toilet seat to hands and fingertip to lip differs according to the suspension of the inoculum. Methods and Results: Hands were sampled after lifting a toilet seat which was inoculated with MS-2 on the underneath side. MS-2 was suspended in a spectrum of proteinaceous and non-proteinaceous solutions. Transfer efficiencies were greatest with the ASTM tripartite soil load (3.02% ± 4.03) and lowest with phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) (1.10% ± 0.81) for hand-to-toilet seat contacts. Finger-to-lip transfer rates were significantly different (p < 0.05) depending on suspension matrix, with PBS yielding the highest transfer (52.53% ± 4.48%) and tryptose soy broth (TSB) the lowest (23.15% ± 24.27%). Quantitative microbial risk assessment was used to estimate the probability of infection from adenovirus and norovirus from finger contact with a toilet seat. Conclusions: The greatest transfer as well as the largest variation of transfer were measured for finger-to-lip contacts as opposed to toilet seat-to-finger contacts. These factors influence the estimation of the probability of infection from micro-activity, that is, toilet seat adjustment. Significance and Impact: Viruses may be transferred from various human excreta with differing transfer efficiencies, depending on the protein content.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3083-3093
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Microbiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • finger transfer
  • fomites
  • matrices
  • risk assessment
  • virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


Dive into the research topics of 'Minding the matrix: The importance of inoculum suspensions on finger transfer efficiency of virus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this