IF you’re a regular public transport user, you might want to take some good handwipes with you.
Nine of the world’s most threatening superbugs have been found on public transport – and it could be a breeding ground for more, UK researchers warn.
A survey that was conducted in London discovered a total of 121 bacteria and moulds were on buses, Tube trains and taxis.
Study leader Dr Paul Matewele, an immunology expert, said this was ‘very scary’ because superbugs can easily transfer their antibiotic resistance to other bacteria, driving the spread of resistance.
His team took 80 swabs across the London transport network, testing hand rails, seats, doors and walls. Klebsiella pneumoniae, which causes pneumonia, was found in Tube trains and taxis. This nightmare bacteria recently killed a woman in the US after it resisted treatment with 26 antibiotics including colistin, which is considered a drug of last resort.
E.coli, which can cause blood poisoning and salmonella, which is responsible for many food poisoning outbreaks, was found on the Tube , buses and taxis. Acinetobacter baumannii, which can lead to pneumonia, bloodstream infections and meningitis, was found on the Circle Line.
The Victoria Line was the dirtiest, with 22 types of potentially harmful bacteria, while buses were found to be the cleanest way to travel, according to the research commissioned by taxi insurers Staveley Head.
Dr Matewele said the concentration of superbugs was frightening because bacteria currently thought to be less deadly could soon become resistant to drugs.
‘If bacteria dies but there’s enough bacteria next to it, then the DNA that contains the resistant gene may be transferred to the [second] bacteria,’ he warned. ‘This is very scary.’
Antibiotic resistance – in which bacteria evolve to fight off drugs – is rapidly becoming seen as the biggest crisis facing modern medicine.
Jill Collis, director of health, safety and environment for Transport for London, said: ‘The Tube is an extremely safe environment and our trains and stations are professionally cleaned throughout the day and night.
‘There is no cause for customers to worry about bacteria on the Tube or do anything different in terms of hygiene than they would in other public places.
© Daily Mail