It’s no urban legend. The bottom of your purse really is coated with bacteria that can spread infectious diseases.

Since 2006, an e-mail has been making the rounds warning women that the bottom of their purses are smeared with a number of bacteria, including E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus. It’s true.

A laboratory at the University of Texas, Tyler along with KLTV in Tyler tested eight handbags and found that seven of them were contaminated. “The technician that prepared these plates said she’d never cleaned her purse. And she took one look at them and said she wanted to go home and clean her purse,” UT’s Dr. Richard Wallace, who specializes in infectious diseases, told KLTV.

The bacteria most frequently found on purses is something called “gram negative rods” or GNRs, which are found in feces, as well as in bathrooms and kitchens that are not cleaned well. They also can be picked up from pets. GNRs include Salmonella, Shigella and E. coli.

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