Are you a germaphobe? Do you take public transit? Well, a new study out of Boston might make you feel a little better about getting on a subway car full of coughing, sneezing people.
The study concluded that Boston’s subway system houses fewer microbes associated with antibiotic resistance than found in a typical person’s intestines.
In total, 46 antibiotic-resistant genes were found in the transit system. The most common microbe was Propionibacterium acnes, known to cause (no surprise) acne.
What’s more, aside from the flu, the chances of getting sick from riding the Boston subway appear to be low.
Along with those findings, the researchers discovered more microbes were found on certain surfaces compared to others.
The areas with the most bacteria were the subways’s hanging grips, followed by seats and touchscreens, such as ticket machines.
In 2015, a study about microbes in the New York subway system caused some panic when researchers claimed to have found “fragments that matched to the genomes of Yersinia pestis (Bubonic plague) and Bacillus anthracis (anthrax).”
A subsequent letter published in the same journal pushed back accusing the researchers of not understanding genetics, microbiology and epidemiology.
“The authors’ suggestion that humans and plague bacilli have ‘interacted (and potentially evolved)’ in NYC is unfounded and without scientific merit,” Joel Ackelsberg wrote.
Of course, that’s not to say that all transit systems are “healthy,” but perhaps we don’t have to consider subways giant petrie dishes.