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large numbers of bacteria on the bottom and inside of shoes

June 23, 2008

You might be tracking in more than mud on those shoes.

A study released by Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona, and The Rockport Company found large numbers of bacteria on the bottom and inside of shoes. Shoes in the study averaged 421,000 units of bacteria on the outside and 2,887 on the inside. Some of the bacteria found included Escherichia coli, known to cause intestinal and urinary tract infections, meningitis and diarrheal disease; Klebsiella pneumonia, a common source for wound and bloodstream infections as well as pneumonia; and Serratia ficaria, a rare cause of infections in the respiratory tract and wounds. The goal of the study was to verify bacteria levels on footwear and the effectiveness of machine washable shoes in reducing those levels inside and outside the shoe surface. The project also investigated the role of shoes in the movement of bacteria from contaminated floor spaces to other surfaces.

The good news: simply washing the shoes with detergent was found to reduce all bacteria by 90% or more and completely mitigated fecal bacteria—findings which bode well for Rockport’s new machine washable collection of casual footwear, and detergent makers too. More info: www.rockport.com
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