So, about that rubber duck …

 

Folks over at The New England Journal of Medicine aren’t too impressed with all the media attention devoted to a recent paper in Nature about the bacteria they found inside your kid’s rubber duck.

Nor are they impressed by similar media stories reporting bacterial counts on, well, pretty much anything: the coffee maker, the kitchen sponge, TV remote control, the playground sandbox, your flight’s tray table, your doctor’s necktie, lab coat, and stethoscope, and so on …

The reason the NEJM isn’t amused is captured by the title of their story: News Flash – The World Isn’t Sterile. Indeed, if you look hard enough, they say, bacteria can be found literally everywhere. And thus:

What’s missing from all these studies, of course, is a correlation between identification of these bugs and any subsequent diseases. It’s not as if kids with rubber ducks were coming down with more infections than kids who don’t have them …

In summary, bacteria on common household, work, and travel items are ubiquitous; furthermore we lack any clinical data that this is important in any way.

In other words, all these news stories are unfair to the duck. It’s just a kid’s toy – it’s not R. Ducktococcus aureus.  

 

 

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