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Name: Sterling B.
Status: Student
Age: 12
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: January 2004


Question:
What kind of bacteria would grow on shopping carts?



Replies:
What part of the shopping cart? When you think of the size of a bacterium vs. the size of the cart, there are many different ecosystems. I am going to assume you are thinking of the "handlebar" that you push the cart with, or where you put your hands. The bacteria that would be found here would be basically of two kinds: the ones that are found there all of the time because they can live in dry conditions and at room temperature, and those that were transferred from someone's hands and will be there only until someone else comes along and touches the cart. The first kind are probably not the kind that can make you sick, and are the same bacteria that would be found on the floors, in the dirt and flying through the air on dust particles. They are with us all the time and we cannot get rid of them. Normally, they do not bother us. The second kind might make you sick, but probably will not. Even the bacteria that you carry around on your skin, including your hands, is mostly just normally there. If you do not wash your hands well after going to the bathroom, or you wipe your nose with your hands and you are carrying something that can make you sick, if you touch the cart and someone comes along after you and touches the cart, they might pick up your bad bacteria. But it is more complicated than that also. This second kind of bacteria is used to living on or in your body, where it is dark and warm and moist. They do not survive long outside of your body.

So just because someone touches the cart before you, that does not mean you will automatically get sick. And even if you do pick up a bad bacteria, it depends on how strong your immune system is whether it will ever be able to make you sick. So, to make a long story short, it is hard to say!

vanhoeck



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