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Cigarettes Teeming With Bacteria, Other Pathogens

Fifteen different classes of bacteria found in all brands tested

MONDAY, Nov. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Cigarettes contain more than a dozen different types of bacteria, as well as other harmful pathogens that could play a role in smokers' increased risk of infectious and chronic respiratory diseases, according to a study published online Oct. 22 in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Amy R. Sapkota, Ph.D., of the University of Maryland College Park, and colleagues analyzed four brands of cigarettes using 16S rRNA-based taxonomic microarray testing to evaluate total bacterial diversity.

In all the samples there were 15 different bacteria classes, as well as many other potential pathogens, and in at least 90 percent of samples, the researchers found Acinetobacter, Bacillus, Burkholderia, Clostridium, Klebsiella, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Serratia, with similar bacterial diversity across brands.

"To our knowledge no one has comprehensively evaluated whether the actual cigarettes themselves may be the source of exposure to bacterial organisms that subsequently cause infection and other potential illnesses," the authors write. "The overall public health implications of these findings are unclear at this time, and future studies are necessary to determine whether or not microbes originating from cigarettes could play considerable roles in the development of both infectious and chronic diseases among smokers and other exposed populations."

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