At the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s annual meeting, a study was presented by scientists who had taken samples from a variety of public restrooms. They discovered that the amount of illness-causing bacteria located in the public restrooms was too large to even measure.
According to the website Sani-Seat, a company that makes the plastic or paper toilet covers, 60 percent of Americans say they refuse to sit down on a toilet seat in a public restroom. However, experts say that the fear of sitting on the average toilet seat is exaggerated.
Dr. Philip Tierno, director of clinical microbiology and diagnostic immunology at New York University Medical Center and Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City says that a huge portion of the bacteria that inhabit toilet seats are “fecal-borne bacteria,” which includes E. coli, a bacteria that can cause bloody diarrhea or abdominal cramps, streptococcus, a the bacteria that causes strep throat, and S. aureus, a bacteria linked to serious skin problem and pneumonia.
However, even though these bacteria exist on the toilet seat, it doesn’t mean they’ll automatically make you sick. Your skin acts as an extremely effective barrier which keeps all those nasty germs out, unless you have an open wound on your butt.
Dr. Tierno says “If the toilet seat is dirty, don’t use it. Use common sense. In general, however, you’re unlikely to pick up anything from a toilet set.”
Germs are found in more places than just on top of a toilet seat. Lots of organisms are found on the underside of the toilet seat because it doesn’t get cleaned as often as well as the fact that when you flush you bring up the contents of the toilet. It’s not just your germs, it’s germs from other people,” says Tierno.
According to an ABC News investigation, the places in public bathrooms with the most germs have about 2 million bacteria per square inch. They says “if you carry a purse or shoulder bag, avoid putting it down on the floor while you’re in the bathroom — hang it on the back of the door if possible.”
Dr. Tierno states that the most dangerous part of public bathrooms is picking up the germs and carrying them around with you. In order to avoid that, wash your hands with tons of soap and water after using the bathroom.