An interesting study suggests that there is transmission of fecal coliforms in communal bathrooms at a university and that a toothbrush can serve as transmitting the pathogenic organisms. The problem is when there is fecal matter on your toothbrush from someone else which contains bacteria or parasites that are not part of your normal flora.
In the study toothbrushes were collected from those using communal bathrooms with around 9.4 occupants per bathroom. Regardless of how the toothbrush was stored at least 60% were found to have fecal coliforms. There was an 80% chance that the fecal colifroms on the toothbrushes did not belong to their owner and came from another person using the same bathroom.
The authors of the study note that using a toothbrush cover does not protect the toothbrush from bacteria growth and instead creates an environment where bacteria are suited to grow because the bristles are kept moist. The authors suggest that better storage methods of their toothbrushes are considered and that better personal hygiene occurs.
So if you are a college student and commonly sharing a bathroom with others consider your options with the storage of your toothbrush. Understand that potential microorganisms can be introduced to your toothbrush by others in the bathroom.
Source: ScienceDaily “Toothbrush contamination in communal bathrooms.” June 2, 2015.