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General Health Channel
Reported November 29, 2011

Public Restrooms Ripe with Bacteria

(Ivanhoe Newswire) – You may want to refrain from touching anything in a public restroom after you wash your hands. Researchers used novel genetic sequencing methods to reveal a plethora of bacteria all over public restrooms. This leads to potential public health implications, according to this study.

Led by Gilberto Flores and Noah Fierer of the University of Colorado, Boulder, the researchers investigated 12 public restrooms, 6 male and 6 female, in Colorado. Using a high-throughput genetic sequencing technique, they identified various bacteria on all the surfaces they tested. The floor had the most diverse bacterial community, and human skin was the primary source of bacteria on all surfaces. Interestingly, there were a few differences between the bacteria found in the male versus female bathrooms.

The sequencing approach they used also allowed them to determine the source of the bacteria they identified, including skin, soil, and urine. This methodology, according to the authors, could potentially help "analyze bathroom bacterial communities to identify proper (or improper) hygiene habitats, and that the exchange of bacteria on building surfaces may represent an important mode of pathogen transmission between individuals."

SOURCE: PLoS ONE, published online November 24, 2011


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