I love having my feet rubbed. It’ more relaxing than my Friday night glass of wine, more satisfying than eating chocolate, candy or chips and dip. Perhaps most importantly, it’s lower in calories so I don’t hate myself in the morning and the person rubbing my feet is exerting energy and burning calories. Basically it’s an all-around win-win. I love having my feet rubbed so much that I have perfected the ability to work in “Rub my feet?” to virtually any conversation and I have found that the threat of having to rub my feet can keep a hockey team of 9 year olds under control (threatening to watch princess movies also works if you need an alternative option).
It was with a bit of personal disappointment that I came across a recently published article “Evaluation of a shoe sole UVC device to reduce pathogen colonization on floors, surfaces and patients” where researchers spiked the soles of 200 pairs of shoes, implanting 3 strains of bacteria and a non-toxigenic strain of Clostridium difficile. The shoes were then randomly assigned to be either exposed to UV-C radiation for 8 seconds or act as controls with no exposure. According to the researchers, UV-C significantly reduced shoe sole contamination with all bacterial species they tested. Additionally, shoes that were exposed to the UV-C device also significantly reduced the contamination on all floor types and with all species of bacteria tested.
So what’s my take? The study is interesting, but the results are really not surprising. In the last several years there has been quite a bit of research on various UV-C technologies that has shown they are capable of decreasing the bacterial burden on surfaces. It’s entirely logical that these devices would be effective in disinfecting shoes. Are the soles of shoes the areas we should be concerned with disinfecting? Certainly, they could be a potential fomite that are carrying pathogens from place to place, but for now I’ll continued to be more concerned about properly disinfecting objects like stethoscopes, and other hospital equipment which we know for fact can lead to transmission of pathogens. Besides, if I think the soles of shoes (or feet) are a true concern for transmitting pathogens, how can I in good conscious ask someone to rub my feet? These socks need to be used you know!!