Special Report: Toting trouble
With a little help from Dad, Emily Drucker, 7, gets her backpack ready for another busy day at school.
But what this first grader doesn't know is she's not just carrying around books, but a potential bacteria breeding ground.
7News put Emily’s backpack and six others to the test, inside and out, and they all got a bad grade on germs. All seven of the swabs we took were covered in bacteria. All but one backpack tested positive for staph bacteria, which is a dangerous discovery, because staph could harm kids by causing skin infections.
"Bacteria are good at hitching a ride," Dr. Mark Steven Pasternack, of Massachusetts General Hospital, said. "Cuts and scrapes are the portals of entry for bacteria to enter the body and produce a local infection."
The one backpack that was safe from staph had an even bigger bacteria problem.
They're called spore formers, and they can latch on to lunches or snacks. In higher levels, experts say these bacteria could cause food poisoning.
"It is disturbing to me that the backpacks could be dirty, and the germs are sitting on them waiting for the kids," Emily's dad, Jeff Drucker, said.
"They're completely disgusting," Mitzi Nolan, a mom, said.
So, what can you do to protect your kids' backpacks from bacteria? The key is to keep them away from dirty places like floors, especially in the bathroom. Instead, hang them on hooks and clean them. Some bags can be thrown in the washing machine. Others need to be hand-washed. Plus, spray them with a disinfectant. This way your kids won't be "toting trouble" to and from school.
Also, keep backpacks away from places you keep your food, like kitchen counters and tables.
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