Metro travelers collect bacteria from ALL who traveled in the system on their night journey

In recent years, numerous studies have confirmed what all passengers in a busy urban area already know: underground trains are plagued by bacteria. A new study investigates how bacteria are transferred throughout the day. Stock Photo

In recent years, numerous studies have confirmed what all passengers in a busy urban area already know: underground trains are plagued by bacteria.

The problem even leads to different microbiomes between the different lines, with certain types of bacteria linked to particular areas of the city.

But, according to a new study in Hong Kong, these differences only last for so long.

As the day progresses, the researchers found that individual groups eventually mix to create a uniform set of bacteria that represents the "fingerprint of the entire city."

In recent years, numerous studies have confirmed what all passengers in a busy urban area already know: underground trains are plagued by bacteria. A new study investigates how bacteria are transferred throughout the day. Stock Photo

In recent years, numerous studies have confirmed what all passengers in a busy urban area already know: underground trains are plagued by bacteria. A new study investigates how bacteria are transferred throughout the day. Stock Photo

"In the morning, each line has unique microbial characteristics that reflect the regions it passes, but with more and more people using the meter during the day, the microbial communities of all the lines become more similar, dominated by skin commensal bacteria. human, "says Gianni Panagiotou, a systems biologist at the Hans Knoell Institute in Germany and the University of Hong Kong.

"The Metro constantly cleans every surface we touch, but the train compartments have little personal space: passengers are crushed there, and we're talking about one of the busiest and densest cities in the world."

For the study, researchers sent volunteers to different subway lines along the 100-mile Metro system in Hong Kong.

The volunteers toured the subway for half an hour during the morning and afternoon rush hours, and took samples of bacteria on their palms after each trip.

And they found that all kinds of bacteria had been transferred.

The diagram shows how the metro lines in Hong Kong and throughout mainland China allow bacteria to mix, allowing for a uniform microbiome that represents the entire region at the end of the day.

The diagram shows how the metro lines in Hong Kong and throughout mainland China allow bacteria to mix, allowing for a uniform microbiome that represents the entire region at the end of the day.

The diagram shows how the metro lines in Hong Kong and throughout mainland China allow bacteria to mix, allowing for a uniform microbiome that represents the entire region at the end of the day.

While it was said that the most common bacteria were relatively harmless and that they normally live on the skin, the team also noticed a number of pathogens, albeit with a low abundance.

This included Helicobacter pylori, which can cause inflammation in the stomach, along with other potentially infectious bacteria.

Throughout the day, bacteria from different subway lines were mixed to become a microbiome, an effect seen especially with antibiotic resistance genes.

"In the morning, the ARGs were only captured in a few lines, but at night they could be tracked in all of them," says Panagiotou.

WHAT TYPES OF BACTERIA CAN BE FOUND IN THE NYC SUBWAYS?

A study published in 2015 mapped the distribution of bacteria in the New York subway system.

They discovered that bacterial populations differed drastically in the busiest stations.

THE BACTERIA IN THE MOST COMMON STATIONS OF NEW YORK
Station Species of bacteria associated with ..
Times Square – 42 St Food poisoning, radiation resistance, toxic cleaning, infections of medical devices
Grand Central – 42 St Resistance to antibiotics, resistance to radiation, mozzarella cheese, sepsis, sunscreen
34 St – Herald Sq Food poisoning, Italian cheese and antibiotic resistance
14 St – Union Sq Sunscreen, urinary tract infections, oil cleaning, toxic cleaning
59 St – Columbus Circle Toxic cleaning, sunscreen, antibiotic resistance, food poisoning
Lexington Avenue Heart valve infections, radiation resistance, toxic cleanliness
86 St Respiratory diseases, cleaning of oils, food poisoning, resistance to antibiotics

The conclusion, the researchers say, is that although subway lines house their own distinct microbiomes, no line is worse than the others in the long run when it comes to bacteria.

"The idea of ‚Äč‚Äčthis project is not to frighten people, because what we observed was that the busiest metro lines do not entail greater risks to health, neither in terms of pathogens nor in terms of antibiotic resistance genes", says Panagiotou.

"Instead, we want to better understand how urban planning can affect the types of bacteria we find so that studies like ours, which investigate the microbial composition of train compartments, can guide future public health strategies and public transport designs." .

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