Germs found on transit system barely pose threat, despite popular belief

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.

The subway is crowded–and not just with people. Sharing your commute are trillions of invisible microbes. This notion is nothing new. In 2011, San Francisco State University caused a stir when it announced that local trains had fecal microbes and flesh-eating bacteria on the seats.

However, Curtis Huttenhower, an associate professor at Harvard, and his team found that the nasty bugs trumpeted in past studies have surprisingly low numbers of worrisome pathogens or antibiotic resistance genes.

“These environments have drastically lower virulence profiles, in fact, than are observed in a typical human gut,” stated Huttenhower. He explained that, despite popular beliefs, the vast majority of microbes in shared spaces like in trains are harmless.


“Something I’ve been really happy about in the last few years is the better popular understanding of things like human gut microbes. It’s not a bad thing that we have lots of bugs in us; it’s how we evolved, and it’s how our metabolism and nutrition normally works,” he said.

Read full, original post: Meet the Germs Sharing Your Seat on the Subway

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