Scientists warn making a cup of tea could be dangerous to health in the office
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Office staff are being advised to seriously consider improving their hygiene standards after a large amount of dangerous bacteria was found by scientists when examining communal workplace kitchen items.
UK scientists have found evidence of bugs that are typically spread through faeces on items like kettles, fridge door handles and coffee machines as well as microwave buttons.
Dr Adam Roberts, a microbiologist from Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and chief researcher of the campaign said that results predict that staff are 'not washing their hands thoroughly, or at all, after going to the toilet'.
Dr Roberts continued: “The potential knock-on effect of this is that, if an individual who is more susceptible to infection, then touches those same surfaces, they may be at risk of becoming ill."
Dr Roberts and his team took swabs from shared kitchen areas in office spaces and construction worker break rooms and found several types of bacteria including E.coli - a common bacteria known to cause gastro-intestinal illnesses such as diarrhoea and UTIs.
They also discovered pseudomonas, which is linked to respiratory infections, and Klebsiella, a microbe that is spread via faeces and can lead to pneumonia.
The latter was found on almost all 11 kitchen items swabbed.
The scientists also found that every item had a presence of fungi, with fridge door handles being the worst culprit.
There is an easy solution to minimise the risk, however.
Dr Roberts suggests: "The simple way to try to minimise this risk, though, is to practise good hand hygiene as much as possible.”
Director of public health for Warrington and commissioner of the research Thara Raj added: “Fridge door handles, coffee machines and kettles seemed to be the places where the most bacteria was, all of which are items that we’ll likely touch several times each day.
“The key thing to remember is that these bacteria are completely invisible to the naked eye so, while these items may look clean, they could in fact be home to lots of different microbes."
The study came as part of a wider campaign known as Simple Things - a programme aimed to encourage people to take simple actions to reduce the spread of common illnesses like flu, norovirus and colds.
The study was brought about due to norovirus cases being at the highest they have been in over a decade.