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Results from germ sample in Tulsa home revealed

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Updated: 5/22/2012 10:02 am Published: 5/21/2012 7:51 pm

Last week, Elizabeth Cameron allowed FOX23 to swab germ "hot spots" in her house for cultures.

The toothbrush, shower, washing machine and dryer were swabbed and taken to Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences for testing. Biologists and professors in the OSU laboratory ran the samples through a series of tests.

Dr. Richard Glass is a professor of Forensics and Pathology at the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences; he says the formula for germ growth is fairly simple. "Germs can thrive any place that it is moist or has a food source."

Elizabeth said she was prepared for the biologists to find germs, "they are everywhere they are surrounding us."

Elizabeth was right.

"The plates speak for themselves," said Dr. Glass. The doctor explained to FOX23 that it is still preliminary in the testing to determine specific names for the bacteria but acknowledged that a range of growth was present.


Dr. Glass said he was surprised by the lack of organisms on the sample. However, Dr. Glass explained the bacteria that was present, "are potentially really disease producers." The toothbrush culture revealed a chain of strep. "You don't want to be brushing your teeth with a toothbrush that contains strep," said Dr. Glass.

Dr. Robert Conrad is a professor of Microbiology at Oklahoma State Medical Center; he explained the biologists used 'gramstaining' to reveal that gram-positive strep bacteria was present. Gram-positive bacteria are those that are stained dark blue or violet by the gram staining.

In order to avoid the spread of germs Dr. Glass said that toothbrushes should be replaced every two weeks.


Dr. Conrad said slides under the microscope revealed a mix of different bacteria found inside the dryer. Biologist said the dryer is a breeding environment for germs. Dr. Glass said the area of concern usually stems from the lint in the dryer, "you are breathing in the organisms in your respiratory tract."

What can you do to prevent it at your house? The biologists said to keep the door open to air it out completely after every cycle and cut off the germs food supply. "Make sure the lint trap is empty because the organisms need food and water," Dr. Glass said.

Washing Machine

The OSU laboratory results came up with relatively spotless culture from the washing machine. Dr. Glass said he was not surprised by results, attributing it to the chemicals in the detergent that can help to sanitize the area.

Biologists say using bleach to clean the inside of your dishwasher, washing machine and dryer can help kill germs.


Dr. Glass said the shower had the most growth on the plates. The enriched media plate used to look at the G.I. tract and organisms that upset your stomach were thick, said Dr. Glass.  If you don't close the lid on the toilet, everything that goes down will up up and it covers everything," said Dr. Glass, "

Biologist said your best line of defense is to use Clorox based cleaning products and to replace the razors in your shower frequently. Razors can create cuts which can create a portal for germs to enter.

So can you become sick from the germs? Dr. Glass said that answer varies from person to person, " Any of these germs can cause disease given the right set of circumstances."  Biologists in the laboratory reiterated that a trifecta must be present in order for an individual to become sick. The bacteria must be present, but it must also find a way to enter your body, for instance a cut or a sore. You must also be susceptible to it such as having a compromised immune system.

Dr. Glass and Dr. Conrad said the cultures of yeast and fungi could take another week to determine the results. A series of 5 to 24 tests are typically needed to determine the exact name of the bacteria.

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