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Molecular screening of chewing sticks and sponges found on the ghanaian local market for diarrhoea-causing microbes- a pilot study

S. Armoo
G. Twieku
E. Armah


 Chewing sticks and sponges are used for oral hygiene in Ghana and other African countries. In addition to their affordability, they have additional advantages of anti-microbial and an­ti-plague properties. They are usually sold on the open market under low hygienic conditions, exposing them to environmental pathogens. Since they are mostly not sterilized before use, it is important to screen for the presence of pathogens of public health importance on randomly selected samples. This preliminary study used molecular assays to screen for Rotavirus A, <i>Sal­monella</i> <i>typhi</i>, <i>Vibrio</i> <i>cholera</i> and <i>Escherichia</i> <i>coli</i> on 10 chewing stick and sponge samples purchased randomly from the Agbogbloshie market in Accra. The samples were incubated in sterile distilled water overnight at room temperature to dislodge pathogens. Dislodged patho­gens were captured using the Nanotrap Microbiome A kit. Total nucleic acids were extracted from concentrates using the RADI prep DNA/RNA kit. All PCR assays were performed using 2X SYBR Green Mix and pathogen specific primers. Out of the four pathogens screened, only <i>E.</i> <i>coli</i> was detected (40% and 60% of chewing sponge and stick samples respectively). Despite the advantages of chewing sticks and sponges, the detection of <i>E.</i> <i>coli</i> on samples is a cause for concern since they indicate faecal contamination and can cause diarrhoeal diseases. It is recommended that chewing sticks and sponges should be washed clean before used for oral health. An alternative is to train local producers and retailers on improved hygienic pack­aging and handling of these essential cleaning agents.


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eISSN: 0855-1448
print ISSN: 0016-9544