Beware the office coffee pot: 4 everyday surfaces teeming with bacteria

In the era of antibiotic resistant superbugs, it's important to be aware of the invisible bacteria that surrounds us every day.

To identify the most germ-ridden objects we encounter in daily life, the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville provided investigators at WBIR 10News with 20 petri dishes and sterile swabs to test the bacterial content of 20 surfaces people commonly come into contact with on a daily basis.

Here are four items tested by the WBIR team that yielded high bacterial content.

1. The kitchen sponge was found to carry the most bacteria. However, according to Mark Rasnake, MD, an infectious diseases physician at UT Medical Center, the bacteria collected on WBIR's sponge sample were harmless. Still, Dr. Rasnake recommends changing out kitchen sponges regularly due to the object's high bacterial capacity.

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2. High levels of bacteria were collected from bathroom sink handles, with the sample of the handle in the men's bathroom carrying significantly more bacteria than the women's sample. Dr. Rasnake told WBIR this finding did not surprise him.

"You can make your own conclusions about that," said Dr. Rasnake.

3. The television remote control also yielded a sample with high bacterial content, but the bacteria collected from this sample could easily be eliminated with good hand hygiene, according to Dr. Rasnake.

4. The coffee pot handle at the WBIR office proved to be the dark horse candidate in the investigation. The handle displayed very high levels of bacteria, second only to the kitchen sponge.

"Tons of bacteria," said Dr. Rasnake said, while holding up the coffee pot handle sample, according to WBIR. "This thing gets a lot of use by human hands."

More articles on infection control: 
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Antibiotic stewardship reduces C. diff incidence in bone infection patients, study shows 
Hospital floors could transmit germs more easily than previously thought

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