Scientists have recently discovered that just one ATM is most likely covered in millions of microbes that could influence the development of violent infections.
During a study conducted in the summer of 2014, a team of scientists collected the swabs of keypads from sixty-six ATMs in Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan. After analyzing them, the researchers established that most of the bacteria originated from several household surfaces like pillows, kitchens, restrooms, and televisions.
Also, another major source of bacteria was from chicken, mollusks, and bony fish. According to Holly M. Bik, lead researcher, the ATM surfaces retain many bacteria from human inhabitants. In other words, they might transmit many infections to healthy people.
It is worth mentioning that the scientists conducted their research on neighborhoods which had different population demographics. At the end of the study, they discovered that eating habits were related to the type of bacteria found on the ATM keypads.
More precisely, people in Central Harlem preferred chicken, whereas those in Manhattan ate mollusks and bony fish. The team found that the surfaces of ATMs around Brighton Beach contained Toxoplasma, a microbe which causes Toxoplasmosis, an infectious disease which is asymptomatic most of the time.
However, when the symptoms occur, they are similar to the flu. Those most at risk are babies and people with weak immune system. Other ATMs were contaminated with protists usually found in the intestinal tract.
These microscopic organisms are the ones causing trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted disease. Common symptoms include lower abdominal pain, painful urination, itching, irritation, and greenish-yellow discharge.
The researchers explained that many of these microbes were inactive when they were collected and that most of them were in small amounts, meaning that there was a low risk of infection. The team noted that although some ATMs were indoors, they were covered in the same number of bacteria as the ones outdoors.
These findings point to the fact that public health officials should raise awareness about the importance of hygiene management. Previous studies have found that many people don’t wash their hands properly, meaning that they can carry many types of microbes.