It may come as no surprise to the travel-wise, but public
restrooms along America's highways are indeed a haven for potentially dangerous
The latest evidence comes from a study presented this week at the annual
meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.
Researchers collected swab samples from places people normally touch in
public bathrooms, such as restroom door handles, toilet stall handles, toilet
flush handles, sink handles, towel dispenser handles, and blow dryer handles,
at travel and rest stops along major interstate highways in the Southwest.
Their results showed the presence of many different bacteria, such as staph
bacteria and E. coli. MRSA (methicillin resistant
Staphylococcus aureus), a difficult to treat type of staph that can
cause potentially life-threatening infection, was found in 10 of the 47 samples
"This study emphasizes the importance of washing your hands after using
restrooms," says researcher Keith Sternes, PhD, of Sul Ross State
University in Alpine, Texas, in a news release. "It is advisable for
individuals using any public restroom at rest stops or anywhere should
carefully and diligently wash their hands and use a towel or other type of
device to cover their hands when exiting the restrooms. This would help to
prevent recontamination by pathogenic bacteria and lessen the chances of
infection of themselves or others."
By Jennifer Warner
Reviewed by Louise Chang
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