Public restrooms ripe with bacteria, study says

Nov 23, 2011

Everyone wonders what bugs might be lurking in public bathrooms. Now researchers are using novel genetic sequencing methods to answer this question, revealing a plethora of bacteria all around, from the doors and the floors to the faucet handles and toilet seats, with potential public health implications, as reported Nov. 23 in the online journal PLoS ONE.

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 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."

Explore further: Prions can trigger 'stuck' wine fermentations, researchers find

More information: Flores GE, Bates ST, Knights D, Lauber CL, Stombaugh J, et al. (2011) Microbial Biogeography of Public Restroom Surfaces. PLoS ONE 6(11): e28132.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028132

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Is hand washing enough to stop the spread of disease?

Sep 07, 2010

Not drying your hands thoroughly after washing them, could increase the spread of bacteria and rubbing your hands whilst using a conventional electric hand dryer could be a contributing factor. Frequently people give up drying ...

Washing with contaminated soap increases bacteria on hands

May 02, 2011

People who wash their hands with contaminated soap from bulk-soap-refillable dispensers can increase the number of disease-causing microbes on their hands and may play a role in transmission of bacteria in public settings ...

Recommended for you

New tool aids stem cell engineering for medical research

11 hours ago

A Mayo Clinic researcher and his collaborators have developed an online analytic tool that will speed up and enhance the process of re-engineering cells for biomedical investigation. CellNet is a free-use Internet platform ...

New type of cell movement discovered

11 hours ago

For decades, researchers have used petri dishes to study cell movement. These classic tissue culture tools, however, only permit two-dimensional movement, very different from the three-dimensional movements ...

How the zebrafish gets its stripes

11 hours ago

The zebrafish, a small fresh water fish, owes its name to a striking pattern of blue stripes alternating with golden stripes. Three major pigment cell types, black cells, reflective silvery cells, and yellow ...

User comments : 0