Can Farts Spread Disease?

In 2001, a nurse asked Karl Kruszelnicki, an Australian scientist, educator, and commentator, the same question. Discover reports that she wanted to find out if silently farting was contaminating the operation room in which she worked.

Kruszelnicki reached out to Luke Tennent, Canberra microbiologist, in order to get the truth. Tennent had one of his coworkers fart into two Petri dishes at a distance of five cm.

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He asked him to do this first in pants and then again au naturel. The first Petri dish was clean while the second one grew bacteria overnight. This suggests that clothing acts as a barrier to any bacteria expelled by farts (but not all of which would be in the gas).

The findings were published by Dr. Karl in the 2014 satirical holiday issue of the scientific journal BMJ.

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Although Kruszelnicki and Tennent didn’t go into the details of how bacteria could be spread by a person who isn’t wearing pants, China’s CDC did. A Beijing district office of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention stated earlier this year that pants should act as a barrier to farts carrying the novel coronavirus.

To avoid COVID-19 spreading, it is important to practice social distancing and avoid farting naked in public. This is a good rule for everyday life.

The final conclusion? Do not fart naked in close proximity to food. It’s not rocket science.

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