Windshield Washer Fluid Can Spread Germs Linked to Deadly Disease

school busAs if parents needed yet ANOTHER thing to worry about. Add windshield washer fluid to the growing list of things that can kill us and our children.

A deadly form of pneumonia known as Legionnaires’ disease can be spread by windshield washer fluid, according to new research.

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It turns out that the fluid that drivers spray to clean their car windshields can be a breeding ground for the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’.

This week the American Society for Microbiology shared their findings at a meeting in Boston. Researchers studied school buses in Arizona (which, for parents, makes the study far more scary), and you know what they found? About three quarters of the buses in one of the districts tested positive for the potentially deadly bacteria. When sprayed, the contaminated fluid could spread and cause an outbreak. And it should be noted that there was more bacteria present in summer than in the winter.

So should we all be freaking out right about now and demanding that vehicles carrying us and our children drive around with dirty windows? Nope, not yet. Apparently most of us, if exposed, won't catch it. Those with the highest risk include the elderly, people who smoke, and those who have weakened immune systems.

"We are exposed to an enormous number and variety of microbes every day from countless sources, the overwhelmingly vast majority of which are harmless," said Otto Schwake, one of the authors of the study. "That being said, unknown sources of pathogen transmission certainly exist and need to be studied. Due to the sheer lack of data, I believe any study examining the relationship between Legionella and automobiles would be greatly useful."

I'd say ANYTHING we can do to spot the spread of a disease is a good thing, no matter how small.

Do these findings surprise you?


Image via Bill McChesney/Flickr

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