Ball pits and soft plays could contain thousands of dangerous bacteria - including meningitis

Monday, 29th April 2019, 15:03 pm
Updated Monday, 29th April 2019, 15:03 pm
Plastic balls in ball pits could be teeming with a multitude of bacteria (Photo: Shutterstock)

Ball pits are a staple of children’s soft play centres and birthday parties - and we often think of them as safe havens for kids.

But did you know that the plastic balls in ball pits could be teeming with a multitude of bacteria - including meningitis?

Ball pits teeming with bacteria

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A recent study has now revealed that ball pits can contain a variety of different bacteria, including some potentially dangerous bugs.

The research, which was published in the American Journal of Infection Control, looked at ball pits in physical therapy centres in the US.

Numerous potentially dangerous bugs

The study revealed that the dirtiest ball pit contained an average of 170,818 bacteria per ball, while another had 712,000 microorganism cells, according to The Sun.

Researchers from the University of North Georgia revealed that of the 31 different kinds of bacteria that were found, there were types linked to infections of the heart lining and the bladder.

Bugs which can be the cause of sepsis, meningitis, bloodstream infections, skin infections and pneumonia were found - including Enterococcus faecalis, Staphylocccus hominis, Streptococcus oralis and Acinetobacter Iwofii.

Researchers also discovered a yeast that can cause fungal infections in people with weaker immune systems.

A recent study has now revealed that ball pits can contain a variety of different bacteria (Photo: Shutterstock)

Preventing the spread of infection

“It's not always possible to avoid catching an illness, but there are ways to reduce your risk and to prevent infections spreading to others,” says the NHS.

This includes:

Washing your hands regularly, particularly after going to the toilet, before handling food and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.Keeping your home clean and hygienic, particularly if a member of your family is unwell.Wash fabrics that may be contaminated with bacteria or viruses at 60C (140F) and with a bleach-based laundry product.

In regards to cleaning toys, the NHS advises:

Cleaning hard or plastic toys by washing them and putting them away once they're clean and drySome soft toys can be cleaned in the washing machine

This article originally appeared on our sister site, Yorkshire Evening Post