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Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title

A COMPARATIVE PHENOTYPIC ANALYSIS OF BACTERIA COLLECTED FROM ELASTIC HAIR BANDS

Abstract

Studies show that wrist watches, bracelets and wrist-worn activity trackers can harbor both harmless bacterial populations as well as bacterial pathogens. In case studies, skin irritation and bacterial skin infections have resulted from prolonged contact. Additionally, bacteria on such items have been shown to be potential sources of nosocomial, or hospital acquired, infections when worn by health care personnel. Based on this information, in this study we sought to determine if elastic hair bands worn on the wrist could also be a source of potentially pathogenic bacteria. We used two forms of solid growth medium to study bacteria from two different types of hair elastics worn on the wrists of 30 Brenau University students continuously for one week. A cloth-covered elastic hair band was worn on one’s dominant wrist, and a cloth-free, rubber hair band was worn on the other wrist of the same individual. We compared the average number of bacterial species present on each plate and used Enteropluri tests to identify three gram-negative species with potential pathogenic effects for individuals with compromised immune systems. Although future studies are needed to classify a larger number of specific bacteria, including gram-positive bacteria, outcomes from this experiment could lead to precautions for prolonged use of these common items.

Acknowledgements

Brenau University Ivester College of Health Sciences

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