London Underground Lines Contain Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs, Study Reveals

A number of antibiotic-resistant superbugs have been discovered on the London Underground.


More than 80 swabs were taken from handles and seats of each of the tube lines as part of a study, revealing a total of 121 different types of bacteria and mould.


As many as 22 were found on certain lines, including antibiotic resistant E. coli, klebsiella pneumoniae and MRSA.



These can cause vomiting, urinary tract infection, conjunctivitis and in some cases, such as klebsiella, can even lead to death in those with weak immune systems. 


Worryingly, nine of those found appear on the World Health Organisations’ list of antibiotic-resistant “priority pathogens” – a catalogue of 12 families of bacteria that pose the greatest threat to human health.


Is your underground line the dirtiest? Find out below...



Dr Paul Matewele, from London Metropolitan University’s microbiology department, took part in the research. He said: “Not only did we find potentially life threatening bacteria’s which behaved like superbugs when tested against antibiotics, but other forms of mould and bacteria that can be harmful to human health were discovered as part of this research


“Bacteria from rodents like rats and mice were also found upon tube lines, along with traces of faecal bacteria and bacteria from sewage.


“These can cause water infections or skin infections like abscesses if you come into contact with them.”



Taxis and buses in the capital were also tested as part of the study, commissioned by taxi insurers Staveley Head.


On average in each cab, researchers found 14 living bacteria, including Staphylococcus Aureus, Aeromonas Veronii, which can cause pneumonia and meningitis, as well as faeces and salmonella.


Perhaps surprisingly, buses came out as the cleanest mode of transport, with an average of eight per bus.


HuffPost UK has contacted Transport for London for comment.


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