Date of Award

Spring 2007

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Life & Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Sam Alvey

Second Advisor

Grant Hokit

Third Advisor

Joan Stottlemyer

Abstract

This research dealt with factors that may impact the number of enteric and fecal coliform bacteria and the antibiotic resistance of the bacteria present on the hands of children ages one to 15. The targeted bacteria were the subset enteric bacteria, which cause potentially lethal cases of diarrhea in the United States and worldwide. Further exacerbating the mortality rate associated with enteric bacterial infections is the degree of antibiotic resistance acquired by the bacteria. The sterile bag method was used to acquire bacteria from the hands of children; the bacteria were counted and tested for degrees of antibiotic resistance using antibiotic disks. I investigated the relationship between the quantity and antibiotic resistance of the bacteria colonies and the sex, age, and antibacterial soap use of the subject. I found that there was a weak correlation between age and number of bacteria per hand: R2 = 0.3654, while for fecal coliforms per hand, the correlation was stronger: R2 = 0.8464. These data indicated that age was a factor in the number of fecal coliforms per hand, while age was less of a factor in the number of bacteria per hand on children. There was no correlation between the sex or age of children and the antibiotic resistance that each bacterium had acquired. This study indicated that a high percentage of bacteria sampled were multi-drug resistant, which hints at a relationship in the mechanism of acquiring antibiotic resistance.

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