A built environment for which I do NOT want to know about it’s microbiome

OK. I know. Microbes are everywhere. And so we need to get away from sensationalizing another study of “germs” in some environment. But in this case, I confess, I was a bit grossed out: “Kiddie pools are hotspots of bacteria, expert says” from the Visalia Times. A version of the story is also on Medline Plus. It focuses I guess on water activities:

Some lines to inspire this AM

  • “Warm, shallow water and kids in swim diapers (which don’t do a good job of containing feces) can create a perfect breeding ground for water-borne infections even though the water is chlorinated. The best way to prevent young children from getting sick is to keep them from swallowing that water,” he explained
  • Try to avoid swallowing water when you’re in pools or at water parks
  • Another threat is a rare but deadly brain-eating amoeba called Naegleria fowleri. In order to reduce your risk, don’t jump feet-first into warm, stagnant ponds. Doing so can push water into the top of your nose, which gives the amoeba an opportunity to get into your brain.
  • You also need to be alert for jellyfish.

No fear mongering here.  Just sound advice.  Stay out of the water (well, lots of fear mongering, but I will personally try to avoid the kiddie pools).


As a bonus check out this story in the Daily Mail: Deadly germs, sweat and a tablespoon of FAECES: The truth about what really lurks in your hotel hot tub will make you NEVER want to take a dip again

The article reports:

“‘The average bather has about a tenth of a gram of feces in his gluteal fold, which is a nice way of saying butt crack,’ said Gerba.

That means with five people, ‘you have a tablespoon of poop in the hot tub’.

When other human wastes such as urine and sweat mix with chlorine, an irritant called chloramine is created, which is what causes stinging eyes and can irritate your respiratory tract.”


By Staff Sgt. Brian D. Lehnhardt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Staff Sgt. Brian D. Lehnhardt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

2 thoughts on “A built environment for which I do NOT want to know about it’s microbiome

Leave a Reply

Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. My lab is in the UC Davis Genome Center and I hold appointments in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine and the Department of Evolution and Ecology in the College of Biological Sciences. My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis (see my lab site here which has more information on lab activities).  In addition to research, I am heavily involved in the Open Access publishing and Open Science movements.