WSJ: Germs That Can Cause Bubonic Plague, Meningitis on NYC Subway
In a study published by The Wall Street Journal, researchers found DNA for germs that can cause the bubonic plague, meningitis, stomach problems and antibiotic-resistant infections inside the New York City subway system.
On "Happening Now," Jenna Lee spoke with Dr. Christopher Mason, a geneticist at Weill Cornell Medical College, who spent 18 months with his team scouring the subway system in an effort to collect DNA samples to identify germs.
Their goal was to create a bacteria map to study urban microbiology. It's one of the first genetic profiles of a huge metropolitan transit system every conducted.
Roughly 15,152 types of life-forms were found with almost half of the DNA belonging to bacteria. Mason explained that most of the bacteria found was harmless.
"We found that most of the bacteria are actually benign," Mason stated. "So they won't impact your life at all. It really gives us new tools to track and classify all of the bacteria around us."
He told Lee that by documenting all of the germs and life-forms on the subway system, it will help them to discover new ways to track disease outbreaks or detect bioterrorism attacks.
Mason remarked that people shouldn't be concerned about his team finding DNA for scary germs like the bubonic plague, because they only found "fragments of the DNA."
"They have no risk for human health," he said. "There's no evidence that they are alive. These actually represent, believe it or not, a healthy background level of bacteria on different surfaces."
Watch the video above to hear more.