These are the microbes that live on your hand

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Most children (and let’s face it, many adults too) often shrug their shoulders when asked to wash their hands before sitting down to eat. In fact, few of us think about all the dirt and bacteria our hands collect after an entire day spent touching multiple objects and other human hands. To illustrate this point, microbiology lab technician Tasha Sturm cultured the handprint of her 8-year-old son, and the results are shocking.

To conduct the experiment, Sturm placed her son’s hand on a TSA plate after he played outdoors for several hours. She then allowed the microbes left behind to incubate for a few days, and the results are an explosion of yeasts, fungi and bacteria. 

Sturm posted the results on Microbe World “to show that there are microbes everywhere.”

The microorganisms that sprout from your hand

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Courtesy Tasha Sturm/Cabrillo College/asm.org

There were so many growths on the petri dish that Sturm has yet to identify them all. For example, the close-up image to the left shows a mysterious circular patch that looks like an alien insignia. For now, Sturm believes its some kind of containment. 

And what Sturm can identify is no less fascinating. In the featured image shown above, the white spots are examples of Staphylococcus and the orange spots yeast. And that giant bloom at the bottom right corner of the featured image, why that’s every mother’s nightmare, the dreaded Bacillus (see image below).

Courtesy Tasha Sturm/Cabrillo College/asm.org

Courtesy Tasha Sturm/Cabrillo College/asm.org

As grotesque as this may be to those not in the know, the truth is that most of these microorganisms are harmless to humans with most being beneficial, even. Also, take heart in the fact that the human skin is an incredible organ that does an incredible job of keeping out most microorganisms from entering our bloodstream. Sturm, of course, has more such experiments in mind thanks to her and her son’s scientific curiosities. 

It’s normal stuff that we’re exposed to every day. The skin protects us from a lot of the bad stuff out there. The take home message is that to have a healthy immune system, you’ve got to be exposed to stuff. Sturm

About Author

Kristian strives to enlighten and entertain readers. In addition to his teaching and editorial responsibilities, he is working on a science-fiction novel that promises not to include exoskeleton suits and anemic aliens floating in mysterious vats of green-tinted goop.

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