World’s deadliest superbugs found on the London Underground

25th of May 2017
World’s deadliest superbugs found on the London Underground

London's tube network is a "hotbed of bacteria" where nine of the world's most dangerous superbugs are flourishing, scientists have warned.

Researchers from London Metropolitan University tested the hand rails, seats and walls of tube trains across the capital in order to assess their cleanliness. They found a total of 121 different types of bacteria and moulds including Staphylococcus Aureus, E.coli and the highly dangerous Klebsiella Pneumoniae.

The study, carried out in conjunction with taxi insurers Staveley Head, found the Victoria line to be the worst offender with 22 different types of bacteria detected. The Metropolitan line was the cleanest with only 11 types of bacteria identified.

"Bacteria from rodents such as rats and mice were also found on tube lines along with bacteria found in faeces and bacteria from sewage," said Dr Paul Matewele who led the study. ‘These can cause water infections or skin infections such as abscesses if you come into contact with them."

Nine of the bacteria strains detected were among the World Health Organisation's list of drug-resistant bacteria that pose the biggest threat to human health. The discovery of Klebsiella Pneumoniae was of particular concern.

"Klebsiella Pneumoniae is a superbug that antibiotics cannot fight and that can cause urinary tract infections, pneumonia, septicaemia, meningitis and diarrhoea," said Matewele. "The infection can be extremely harmful and proper hygiene is a must."

Director of health, safety and environment for Transport for London Jill Collis said: "The tube is an extremely safe environment and our trains and stations are professionally cleaned throughout the day and night.

"There is no cause for customers to worry about bacteria on the tube or do anything different in terms of hygiene than they would in other public places."

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