Researchers from Hamden, Connecticut Quinnipiac University have published probably one of the most shocking studies you’d probably never want to hear about: it seems that about 60 percent of the toothbrushes used by US students who share communal bathrooms on campuses are contaminated to various degrees with invisible amounts fecal matter.
Even more shocking is the fact 80 percent of the contaminated toothbrushes presented fecal matter from a different person using the bathroom than its user; this leaves toothbrushes as an ideal means of spreading bacteria and viruses between separate people using the same bathroom.
The report was done by analyzing toothbrushes from Quinnipiac students sharing communal bathrooms with nine other students, on average. The results are preliminary and the research has yet to have been published in a peer reviewed journal, so they are liable to being changed.brush, but rather, when a toothbrush is contaminated with fecal matter from someone else who contains bacteria; viruses or parasites that are not part of your normal flora” said lead study author, Lauren Aber, of Quinnipiac University.
Apparently, the toothbrushes were contaminated regardless of their owner’s storage methods, and no type of storage has proven to be more efficient than others. Using a toothbrush cover may also be an incentive for bacterial growth as they manage to create a moist environment which stimulates it.
The news is particularly worrisome for everyone who shares a common bathroom, from families to newly-formed couples. People who use their own bathroom shouldn’t be worried about this, as their fecal matter contains bacteria and viruses which they already possess and won’t affect them in any way.
Most of the fecal matter gets involuntarily on the toothbrush through a process called “aerosolization of feces”. That means that whenever fecal matter is flushed down the toilet, an invisible fecal mist rises and sets itself on the nearby surfaces. With most bathrooms having the toilet right next to the sink on which most people store their toothbrushes, they become easy targets for contamination. The invisible fecal mist also clings onto the clothes of the person flushing and may spread towards other environments from there.
The Center for Disease Combation recommends all toothbrush users to run it through tap water after usage, store it in an upright position, and also make sure that it avoids contact with other toothbrushes positioned near it.
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