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Move over swine flu, there's a stealthy new killer stalking the streets of New York City, and it lurks just beneath the soles of your feet: your flip-flops.
The sandals of summer are the mainstay of urban dwellers trying to beat the heat, but an investigation by the New York Daily News reveals that they're also fetid hotbeds of bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus, which could hitch a ride in your bloodstream through a cut on your foot. If left untreated, it could kill you."It can make you pretty sick if it got into a wound and into your blood, where it could attack any of your internal organs," Dennis Kinney, Ph.D., the manager of the microbiology lab at EMSL Analytical, tells the newspaper. "If you didn't treat it with antibiotics, you could die from it."
Kinney's team at EMSL tested two pairs of flip-flops a pair of reporters wore throughout the city for four days. The rubber thongs gamboled on walks through Prospect Park, hung out in bars in the West Village, hopped on the Cyclone in Coney Island, and even tramped through a public restroom at the Coney Island subway station.
The results, suffice to say, are beyond repulsive:
The $3.50 flip-flops harbored approximately 18,100 bacteria of the five most prevalent varieties found. (Unsurprisingly, the pair that made the trip to Coney Island and stopped off in the public restroom had roughly 13,900 more bacteria.)
"If you wear shoes for three months, 93 percent have fecal bacteria and 20 percent have E. coli," says Dr. Charles P. Gerba, professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona.
Then of course, there's good ol' S. aureus, which could cause skin infections, such as boils, even with mere contact. Or, in the worst-case scenario, it could lead to your untimely demise.
Unrepentant flip-flop lovers might be tempted to buy a new pair and toss it every few days, but we recommend giving the same pair a good sudsing every now and then. Considering that your feet amble along streets where rats, cockroaches, and loogie hockers roam, however, it might be wise to lose those shoes at the door either way.
[Via New York Daily News]
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