Scientists Screw Up Study About Bubonic Plague, Anthrax Traces on Subway

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Photo: Chris Hondros/2006 Getty Images

While the subways remain gross, they’ve been redeemed somewhat after scientists from Weill Cornell Medical College published a small change to their February study about the bacteria found in New York’s subways. Of the more than 15,000 “life forms” they found, scientists had listed traces of anthrax and the bacteria that causes the bubonic plague. City health officials and the CDC vehemently denied that the subways contained particles more often associated with bio-terrorism or a Dark Ages scourge, and the authors of the study, who swabbed 466 stations back in 2013, have now published a revision*, saying that the bacteria was similar to the pathogens, but that “there is no strong evidence to suggest these organisms are in fact present” and they definitely, definitely won’t get anybody sick. 

But before you get all excited and plan a picnic at Penn Station, please be aware that no one is denying that diarrhea and respiratory infections are pretty much everywhere.

*This article originally stated that the scientists issued a retraction; they revised their findings to exclude this specific bacteria.