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Shoppers handle faeces and vomit-inducing bugs when buying groceries, health experts have warned. Researchers with the Infection Innovation Consortium (iiCON) have discovered a wealth of bacteria living in supermarkets and growing on some of the most commonly touched surfaces. They have renewed Covid-era hand washing warnings as people risk contracting unpleasant bugs.
Scientists analysed a series of swabs taken from everyday objects and found that supermarket self-checkouts house thousands of bacteria.
Of the bacteria they found, E Coli was the most common, with traces on every surface.
The bacteria, which typically lives inside most people’s intestines, can cause infections following exposure, with symptoms including diarrhea, stomach cramps and vomiting.
Self-service screens also held traces of faeces and microbes known to cause urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Dr Adam Roberts, iiCON’s chief researcher, said self-checkouts came with a notably high viral load.
He said his team found “five different types of potentially disease-causing bacteria surviving on them”.
Dr Roberts explained: “This included Enterococcus which is found in human faeces and, while this is usually harmless, it can of course lead to disease, particularly in those who may have weakened immune systems.”
Shoppers also risk a second dose of nasty bacteria as they return from their trips.
The researchers found that Candida albicans, a bug known to cause yeast infections, was present on escalator handrails.
Other microbes were present on office computers, extending the disease risk to another location.
Health experts have urged people to wash their hands more often to prevent infections.
Dr Roberts said: “We found multiple examples of E Coli and a bacteria called Klebsiella on computer keyboards.”
“While both exist naturally in faeces and intestines, given the right environment, they are able to cause quite severe diseases in humans.”
He added: “So it’s vital that we wash our hands before and after eating when working at the computer.”
The doctor that people could help care for others by taking these simple precautions.
Doctor Roberts said: “It’s vital to try to minimise their effects in terms of infection prevention and control, so when we touch our mouths or go to the toilet and don’t wash our hands, we’ve likely got bacteria from these places on our hands whi
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