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The Swab Test: Amount Of Bacteria On Touchscreens May Surprise You

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Touch screens have become a part of our routine. It is the preferred and sometimes the only method of ordering food at many local convenience stores and restaurants, with many more national chains following suit.

But with all of this popularity, what kind of germs could we be gobbling up?

Well, with thousands of touchscreen orders being processed each day at any given store, our Alexandria Hoff wanted to find out.

So armed with swabs and instructions Hoff set out on a non-scientific test to see what, if any, germs exist on our beloved touch screens.

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Documented with a camera phone, CBS3 collected data by swabbing the touch screen menus inside of three popular chain stores in our area. The locations were chosen at random and we did not hide what we were doing.

The samples were sealed as instructed and sent to a lab in South Jersey.

Here are the results:

  • Only one of the three screens came back clean.
  • The second touch screen menu turned up with fungus, both penicillium and yeast species, which can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.
  • The third test came back with a large population of pantoea agglomerans, a bacteria that's common to plants and feces. That third kiosk also contained an extremely large amount of acinetobacter species, a bacteria that can prove dangerous to hospitalized patients.

Microbiologist Dr. Michael sulzinski says that the same kind of bacteria and fungi can be found on other common surfaces that we all touch daily.

He added that while this is not a reason to panic it is a good reason to wash your hands after you order off of that touchscreen.

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