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Are microbiologists with beards a threat to public health?

A paper published in PubMed that appeared in the July 1967 edition of Applied Microbiology reports that men with beards who work in microbiology labs may be a public health hazard. The authors conclude that although lab personnel who wash their beards reduced the amount of virus or toxin, a sufficient amount remained to produce disease upon contact with a suitable host.

Here's the abstract:

An investigation was conducted to evaluate the hypothesis that a bearded man subjects his family and friends to risk of infection if his beard is contaminated by infectious microorganisms while he is working in a microbiological laboratory. Bearded and unbearded men were tested with Serratia marcescens and Bacillus subtilis var. niger. Contact aerosol transmission from a contaminated beard on a mannequin to a suitable host was evaluated with both Newcastle disease virus and Clostridium botulinum toxin, type A. The experiments showed that beards retained microorganisms and toxin despite washing with soap and water.

Which makes me curious. Does your lab have proper hair hygiene procedures?

Found via www.ncbirofl.com. A fun blog that highlights the more humorous aspects of research.

Comments (2)

  1. I find this hilarious but it does bring up a valid concern, especially for those of us who come into contact with small children, elderly and other potentially compromised people. Glad I don't have to worry about the beard thing as a female, and I rarely have my hair down, even outside the lab.
  2. LOL Yes, there is a valid concern but the notion of publishing a paper on it is humorous to me. However, if you put when this paper was originally published in 1967 into context, it was the dawn of the hippie movement. When beards and long hair are the popular fashion of the day, this paper probably seemed pertinent at the time.

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