Thinking Of Not Washing Your Hands After Taking A Taxi In New York City? Think Again

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Just in case you were one of the 50.6 million visitors to New York City last year, and you happen to be a germaphobe (or have a healthy aversion to the sudden onset of stomach ailments), you may want to think twice about not washing your hands after using a local taxi. New York magazine recently swabbed the door handles and seats of a random sample of New York city taxicabs and sent the samples to the NYU Langone Medical Center microbiology specialist Dr. Philip Tierno to find out what was lurking there.

The results weren’t good.

Tierno noted the presence of mold, E. coli, oral organisms (which are found in saliva), and, unnervingly, what was either vaginal or anal yeast. Staphylococcus aureus and staphylococcus epidermidis were also detected on several backseats. (In fairness, Tierno says that most of the bacteria his lab discovered already exists in or on the human body, anyway.)

Touching your mouth or nose after coming into contact with these microbes can cause a taxi-goer to become infected with toxic-shock symptoms, wound infections and/or severe diarrhea from these microbes, ailments once reserved for those who inexplicably ordered hot dogs from street vendors around the city.

Tierno goes on to note that as a good precaution, just like after you go to the bathroom, visit the doctor’s office or shop at an American Apparel store, make sure you wash your hands as soon as possible, don’t shirk on the use of hand sanitizer, and avoid touching your face as much as possible (remember Gwyneth Paltrow in Contagion?).

[How Gross Is Your Taxi?]

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