Household Observation of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in the Environment (HOME)

Staphylococcus aureus (also referred to as “Staph ”) is a germ that commonly lives on the skin or in the nose of healthy people. This Staph germ may cause skin infections and rarely can cause more serious infections such as pneumonia or bone or joint infections. In the past several years, our community has experienced an increase in the number of Staph infections that are resistant to the usual antibiotics used to treat these infections. Staph infections sometimes occur in several members of one household.

Our team of doctors and researchers at Washington University are studying how the Staph germ spreads within households. The goal of the HOME study (Household Observation of MRSA in the Environment) is to learn about the role of household contacts and environmental surfaces in the spread of the Staph germ within the household environment. If you and your household members decide to participate, the study team will come to your home 5 times over 1 year.

Who is eligible to be enrolled in the HOME study?

  • Pediatric patients aged 0-21 years with a confirmed active or recent (within the past 2 months) “Staph” infection.
  • There are no restrictions for household contacts.

Who is not eligible?

  • Lack of a permanent home (e.g., live in a shelter or group home)
  • Being on dialysis or having an immunodeficiency
  • Residing in a long-term care facility within the past year
  • Being unable to give consent or non-English speaking
  • Refusing home environment cultures by the study team

What is involved in participation?

At the first visit, the study team will explain the research study to all interested members of your household. Each household member who wishes to participate in the study will sign a consent document agreeing to partake in the study. After the consent documents have been signed, the study team will ask questions about your house and will collect samples from frequently touched surfaces in your house. In addition, each household member will:

  • Answer questions about his or her health, hygiene habits, and activities
  • Have culture swabs taken from nostrils, underarms, and groin area and receive $20 for their time
  • Have saliva swab taken from inside of the cheek and receive $10 for their time

At each of the 4 brief follow-up visits, each household member will:

  • Answer a few questions about their health since the previous study visit
  • Have culture swabs taken from nostrils, underarms, and groin area and receive $10 for their time

The information we learn from this study will help us design better treatments to stop the spread of the Staph germ and prevent infections.


If you have questions about this study or are interested in participation, please contact us:
Voice: 314-747-6296