Faecal matter found on more than 60% of toothbrushes in shared bathrooms

BathroomSHARING a bathroom with other people can have its downfalls – wet towels all over the floor, toilet seats left up, and that person who never replaces the toilet paper.

But a new study finds there is one communal bathroom issue that is much more pressing: faecal contamination on toothbrushes.

More than 60 per cent of toothbrushes collected from shared bathrooms contained fecal matter, the researchers found.

Recently presented at the American Society for Microbiology annual meeting in New Orleans, Los Angeles (LA), United States (US), the study found that more than 60 per cent of toothbrushes collected from students’ shared bathrooms tested positive for faecal matter.

What is more, the researchers found there was an 80 per cent chance that the fecal contamination identified on the toothbrushes came from other people using the bathroom – a worrying finding.

“The main concern is not with the presence of your own fecal matter on your toothbrush, but rather when a toothbrush is contaminated with fecal matter from someone else, which contains bacteria, viruses or parasites that are not part of your normal flora,” explains study author Lauren Aber, a graduate student of Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT.

Such contamination is likely because toothbrushes are openly stored, the researchers explain, which exposes them to material from the toilet or microorganisms from other occupants.

The researchers note that Enterobacteriaceae and Pseudomonadaceae are some of the species of bacteria that can potentially contaminate toothbrushes. Both bacteria can be found in normal gut flora, though some forms can be pathogenic.

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