Remember when your mum would tell you to wash up after playing outside, because your hands were dirty? Well she wasn’t kidding! Tasha Sturm, a microbiology lab tech at Cabrillo College, made a print of her 8 year old’s hand in an agar medium. After she cultured the microbes in a dish for a few days, the strange, yet beautiful handprint that can seen below was grown.
The handprint does look pretty, and Sturm posted a detailed description of how she made the handprint on Microbe World should you wish to make your own handprint.
For us germ freaks, the handprint also looks a bit terrifying. Sturm said some of the bacteria that are present in the germ handprint – such as Staphylococcus and Micrococcus – are commonly found on hands. Sturm also said that the large spot of bacteria on the right bottom side of the handprint is a community of rod-shaped Bacillus which are often found in dirt. According to Sturm the other coloured spots are most likely yeast or other fungi. I have to admit that after this information I don’t really feel like taking my child’s hands and making my own germ handprints (not that I felt like making one before).
The American CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) said that many germs we get on our hands daily come from faeces (yuck), even if we haven’t touched faeces directly (because who would, if they can prevent it). These germs include Salmonella, E. coli, and norovirus. Kids are more susceptible to germs as they have lower immune systems, so kids, wash those hands after playing outside! The CDC recommends a good scrub with soap for about 20 seconds, before drying your hands to avoid recontamination.