| GEO Health|
| Potential health hazards lurking in dirty cars--study|
| Updated at: 1354 PST, Sunday, June 20, 2010|
LONDON: In many ways your car is your safe haven which gets you exactly where you want to go, but people are not always vigilant about keeping their cars as clean as their homes.
According to a new study, a dirty and messy car may be the breeding ground for bacteria, harboring a large amount of harmful moulds like Bacillus cereus and Staphylococcus, which can put the users of the vehicle at the risk of potential health problems.
Spilt soft drinks, wet carpet left to dry “naturally” and food crumbs carelessly strewn on the seat could be home to harmful bacteria that can cause skin infections, food poisoning, severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Dr Anthony Hilton, member of the Society for Applied Microbiology and reader in microbiology at Aston University in Birmingham, England warned, "Although many strains of bacteria are harmless, some can cause unpleasant illnesses.”
A study conducted by scientists for Halfords, a car accessories retailer that promotes vehicle cleaning products, found dangerous bugs that could pose a health hazard when they randomly swabbed areas of a dirty car.
The analysis detected staph bacteria on the door, steering wheel, and under the seats of the car tested.
Other parts of the car including gear-stick, door handles as well as gear-stick also revealed germs.
According to researchers, the bacteria present in soil and dust can invade the vehicle through animals or the shoes of passengers.
Additionally, the bacteria multiply rapidly, especially in heat, spreading infection on the car seats where crumbs collect or around car heating devices.
Hilton stated, "People would be horrified at the prospect of eating from a toilet seat; however they ought to be aware that eating from a contaminated dashboard may represent the same health hazards.
"It is important, particularly now the weather is becoming warmer, for people to ensure they do not leave food debris in their cars as bacteria can thrive on even tiny crumbs. Also if you have animals in your car they can contribute to the presence of harmful micro-organisms.”
He further added, “Those who eat in their car should treat it as an extension of their home and maintain the same levels of hygiene as they would in their dining room.”
Staphylococcal infections are contagious and can be transmitted from person to person. Communicable conditions caused by certain bacteria, staph infections are generally characterized by the formation of abscesses.
Staph bacteria are usually harmless, but when the organisms invade the body through injury, they can overcome the body's natural defenses and consequently cause abscesses of the brain, heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, or spleen.