Feb 22, 2011 6:28 PM by Jessica Hoppe

What germs are lurking in your home?

Germs are everywhere, but what things around you have the most of them? KBZK's Jessica Hoppe took it upon herself to test out some items and you may be surprised by what she found.

We all think germs live in our bathrooms, the kitchen sink, but when reporter Jessica Hoppe took some samples around her own home she was a little shocked by what she found on the other things we touch everyday.

MSU Professor Kari Cargill provided petri dishes to sample the items Jessica wanted to test. These dishes had yeast extract in them, which gave the bacteria something to eat and ultimately grow. She choose to take samples from the bottom of her purse, the computer keyboard, a television remote, her and her husband's cell phones, the toilet handle and the steering wheel on her truck.

Cargill said she thought testing the steering wheel was a great idea.

"Your steering wheel is interesting. The steering wheel, nobody ever thinks to clean the steering wheel and we touch them all the time and so some of these might be normal hand microbes, but you also might have a variety of environmental organisms," she said.

Cargill had her students do a similar experiment for their microbiology lab in their own homes. One student sampled both her dog and her cat's feet and the amount of bacteria was huge. Cargill said although you can see where bacteria grows, it would take much more testing to find out the kind it is and whether or not it's harmful.

She said she hopes anyone doing this kind of experiment takes away one thing.

"To have an awareness of the things you can't see so our class is called Unseen Universe and it's really true in modern society we have awareness that there are microbes there, but until you actually see them you don't really think about them too terribly much," Cargill said.

Although her results definitely gave her something to think about, Cargill assured Jessica a lot of the bacteria was typical from organisms found on the skin. She did however advise if bacteria is growing there is also a good chance viruses are present. And she added it's the viruses that usually make us sick.

Now after taking her samples around the home, Jessica let the bacteria grow for a couple of days. The results, well the toilet handle had basically nothing growing on it, which was surprising. This could be due to great housekeeping or the fact it's a cold, hard surface that doesn't lend well to growing bacteria. The item with the next least amount of bacteria was her computer keyboard. It only grew a few colonies.

On the other hand, both her cell phone and her husband's had a fair amount of bacteria on them. Another item which grew a lot was the television remote.

The item that fared the worst was the bottom of her purse. Women set their purses on the floor, in the car, then take them home and put them on our counters and tables. It definitely gave Jessica something to think about.


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