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Study reveals high bacteria levels on footwear
23
Apr '08
More than 90 percent of bacteria collected on worn shoes can be eliminated with one wash cycle, according to a study released by Dr. Charles Gerba, microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona, and The Rockport Company.

The study—which investigated germs and microbes collected on footwear—found large numbers of bacteria both on the bottom and inside of shoes; averaging 421,000 units of bacteria on the outside of the shoe and 2,887 on the inside.

Some of the bacteria found on the shoes included: Escherichia coli, known to cause intestinal and urinary tract infections, meningitis and diarrheal disease; Klebsiella pneumonia, a common source for wound and bloodstream infections as well as pneumonia; and Serratia ficaria, a rare cause of infections in the respiratory tract and wounds.

The goal of the study was to verify bacteria levels on footwear and the effectiveness of machine washable shoes in reducing those levels inside and outside the shoe surface. The project also investigated the role of shoes in the movement of bacteria from contaminated floor spaces to other surfaces.

“The common occurrence (96 percent) of coliform and E. coli bacteria on the outside of the shoes indicates frequent contact with fecal material, which most likely originates from floors in public restrooms or contact with animal fecal material outdoors,” said Gerba. “Our study also indicated that bacteria can be tracked by shoes over a long distance into your home or personal space after the shoes were contaminated with bacteria.”

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