Germs in the Subway Are the Harmless Kind
Those subway poles you avoid touching because you’re convinced they are covered with harmful germs may not be as dangerous as you thought.
With the cooperation of the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, researchers at Harvard swabbed seats, walls, poles, hand grips and ticket machines in the Boston transit system, and then did DNA analyses to figure out what kinds of organisms they had collected. The study is online in mSystems.
在马萨诸塞湾交通局(Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority)的配合下，哈佛大学的研究人员提取了波士顿地铁座椅、墙壁、扶杆、拉环和售票机的拭子标本，而后进行DNA分析，以明确采集到了何种有机组织。该研究已经在mSystems网站上公布。
All the surfaces were contaminated with generally innocuous human skin bacteria, including various strains of propionibacterium, corynebacterium, staphylococcus and streptococcus, among others. Some strains of these bacteria can cause disease under certain circumstances, but all are carried by healthy people and usually cause no problems.
Unsurprisingly, oral germs were found on poles at mouth level, and microbes that infest the skin on hand grips. Outdoor ticket machines had microbes that are prevalent in soil and the air.
“We were specifically checking for bad bugs or the kind of DNA that can make good bugs go bad,” said the lead author of the study, Curtis Huttenhower, an associate professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “But even though we think of it as dirty, the transit system has only the kind of microbes you run into shaking people’s hands.”
“我们专门检查了不好的细菌，或者能导致好细菌变成坏细菌的DNA，”该研究第一作者、哈佛大学陈曾熙公共卫生学院(Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health)副教授柯蒂斯·哈滕豪尔(Curtis Huttenhower)说。“但是，尽管我们觉得应该很脏，地铁系统上的微生物，只不过是那些与人握手时会接触到的。”