June 1, 2012
Circle Circle Dot Dot, Where The Heck Is My Bacteria Shot?
Lee Rannals for RedOrbit.com
Remember when you were a kid and you thought the opposite sex had cooties? Well, they may not have cooties, but if it was a guy he could very well be out-putting more bacteria.
New research has found that men's offices are littered with more bacteria than women's. During the study, researchers identified over 500 bacterial genera in offices in three cities.
The team set out to characterize and identify bacteria in offices in New York, San Francisco and Tucson in order to have a better understanding of what microscopic creatures may be lying around us at work.
Bacteria from different types of sources were found in abundance on chairs and phones, deriving from all different locations of the human body.
A few of the sources, such as skin and soil, seem like obvious hosts for bacteria to have made their way from towards the office floor, but some others seem just a little icky.
The researchers found that most of the bacteria came not just from human skin, but also the nasal, oral, or intestinal cavities.
Although the idea of bacteria emerging from your work neighbor's intestinal cavities and making its way to your cubicle seems like a reason to get the government guys from ET to come set up a cleanroom, Dr. Scott Kelley says there is no reason to call in a code red.
"They should not do anything if they are not sick because the bacteria are harmless," Kelley, lead author of the paper published in the journal PLoS ONE, told redOrbit in an email. "People don't get sick from their own normal bacteria or soil bacteria, most of which are no problem or even beneficial."
He did say that if your starting to feel the sniffles, it does not mean you should go to work to ensure your co-workers get a taste of some new bacteria your body is churning up. "When people get sick they should stay home from work and not get everyone else sick around them."
According to Kelley, men should also not be feared for the amount of bacteria they excrete, and women shouldn't feel compelled to spray lysol on their male neighbors.
"The amount of bacteria is not as important as the type of bacteria," he told redOrbit. "The vast majority of the organisms we found were harmless and are always with us on our skin and mouths."
So why exactly is it that men are churning up more loads of bacteria when compared to women? Kelley said it is simply because men are bigger.
"Men have more bacteria because they are larger - more skin, bigger mouths - so they likely shed more bacteria wherever they go," Kelley told redOrbit. "But it is nothing to worry about except if they are sick and in crowded places. "
He emphasized that there is no reason for everyone to panic, and that we do not need to be concerned about men, or bacteria in offices.
"All humans are covered with bacteria that are a normal, healthy part of us," he said. "When we go to work, we bring them with us and can spread them around by touch or from flecks of saliva. Our mouths have loads of bacteria all the time."
So although Kelley does in fact say there is no reason to call in a code red around the office for a sterilization, maybe think twice before flicking the boogies up underneath the desk. Not because of the unsafe bacteria, but because that is just plain gross.