Grit Your Teeth: Toothbrush Holder Yields New Germ

Photo credit:Live Science

A new bacterium called Klebsiella michiganensis, part of the same family as E. coli, may be hiding in the toothbrush holder in your bathroom. Typically, E. coli is found in fecal matter or inside your intestines.

Robert Donofrio, director of NSF International’s Applied Research Center, says, “The discovery of K. michiganensis is an important reminder of why proper cleaning is essential. Finding this bacterium in a toothbrush holder is particularly concerning due to the possibility of fecal matter contamination on products used for oral care.” Klebsiella is resistant to drugs and can lead to pneumonia or infections of the respiratory system or urinary tract. K. michiganensis’s surface is slimy and attracts other bacteria to build biofilms, or slimy bacteria films, which can be tough to clean.

Hot soapy water should be used to clean your toothbrush holder at least once or twice a week. To prevent the spread of fecal matter, close the toilet lid before flushing and be sure to wash your hands thoroughly.

Live Science, 11/8/13

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