Tags: new york | subways | germs | anthrax | plague | Weill Cornell

Bubonic Plague, Anthrax Also Riding on NYC Subways: Study

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Friday, 06 Feb 2015 09:54 AM

The New York City subway system is infested with germs – literally.

Scientists discovered that the city’s 466 subway stations contain 67 types of disease-causing bacteria, including bubonic plague, anthrax, meningitis and dysentery, according to reports.

Researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College spent 18 months swabbing turnstiles, ticket kiosks, railings and benches for DNA on the world's largest transport system — and found more than 15,000 types of microorganisms.

Lead scientist Dr. Christopher Mason and his team discovered the plague bacteria in three stations, while anthrax was uncovered on a railing and in a subway car.

But Mason said that there was no danger to the 5.5 million people who ride the subway every day, according to the Daily Mail.com.

"We think the rats are the likely carrier [of the plague bacteria], since we see plenty of rat and mouse DNA," Mason told The Wall Street Journal.

In more than 400 stations, the researchers found DNA from multi-drug resistant bacteria, many of which can cause hospital infections, said The Washington Post.

There was also DNA of bacteria related to food poisoning in 215 stations, urinary tract infections in 192 stations, meningitis and sepsis in 66 stations, and staph infections in 67 stations.

Nearly half of the DNA found matched no known organisms, according to the published study at Cell.com.

Mason released his research team’s "PathoMap" study on Thursday, containing all the microorganisms and DNA present on surfaces in the city’s extensive subway system.

The study was said to be the result of Mason noticing that his daughter, then in preschool, sticking toys in her mouth in 2010, according to the Mail.

Scientists and volunteers, who started the project in 2013, found 637 known bacterial, viral, fungal and animal species when swabbing the spaces between commuters and street musicians, according to the Mail.

Mason told the Journal in an interview that the project was "a mirror of the people themselves who ride the subway."

But his report noted that "the results do not suggest that the plague or anthrax is prevalent, nor do they suggest that NYC residents are at risk," according to the Post.

Mason told The New York Times that, ultimately, he wants people to admire the city subway system in the same way people "look at a rain forest."

"Be almost in awe and wonder, effectively, that there are all these species present — and that you’ve been healthy all along," he said to the newspaper.

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The New York City subway system is infested with germs - literally. Scientists discovered that the city's 466 subway stations contain 67 types of disease-causing bacteria, including bubonic plague, anthrax, meningitis and dysentery, according to reports.
new york, subways, germs, anthrax, plague, Weill Cornell
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2015-54-06
Friday, 06 Feb 2015 09:54 AM
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