OK. We’re still not supposed to have baths in Cape Town and many people have seen that as a bad thing, but given this new research from Swiss and American researchers, maybe it’s not so unwelcome after all.
How could we ever have expected that something which is dark, constantly moist and regularly warmed to somewhere around body temperature could be a place that bacteria and other nasty bugs might like to live?
It’s almost like that old research from Swiss and American researchers from a few years ago which suggested that His Holiness the Supreme Pontiff, Bishop of Rome and apostolic successor to Saint Peter… might be Catholic.
They also did something about bears… I think that one might have been disproved though.
Swiss and American researchers counted the microbes swimming inside the toys and say the murky liquid released when ducks were squeezed contained “potentially pathogenic bacteria” in four out of the five toys studied.
The bacteria found included Legionella and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterium that is “often implicated in hospital-acquired infections.”
Well, at least it’s not penguicidal avian flu.
Still, not great, but really not very surprising either. Create near perfect conditions for microbes to thrive and microbes will thrive.
Lots of them:
They turned up a strikingly high volume – up to 75 million cells per square centimetre – and variety of bacteria and fungus in the ducks.
As a microbiologist, I’m used to seeing big numbers when it comes to the number of cells in any given place, so yes, that’s a big number, but microbes like to grow in big numbers.
Still, multiply it up for the internal area of this big boy…
…and you’ve got enough bacteria to wipe out the entire planet several times over. Perhaps that’s Florentijn Hofman‘s secret plan.
Anyway, if you’re a parent and you have concerns (or even if you’re not a parent and you have concerns), you have a few options:
Ditch the duck.
Clean the duck.
Buy a watertight rubber duck to prevent internal growth of nasty bugs.
It’s worth noting that actual, real ducks are also watertight, and most of them aren’t full of Legionella and Pseudomonas spp. – lessons from Mother Nature, ne?
But perhaps the best way to avoid diseases transmitted by rubber ducks is not to bath with a rubber duck in the first place. Or – as I mentioned at the start of this post – not to bath at all.