You probably had a feeling that there were some crazy things living in the subways. Well, you probably didn't realize how crazy.

Over the course of 18 months, Weill Cornell Medical College collected all sorts of samples throughout the New York City subway system. What did they find?

In 18 months of scouring the entire system, he has found germs that can cause bubonic plague uptown, meningitis in midtown, stomach trouble in the financial district and antibiotic-resistant infections throughout the boroughs.

Frequently, he and his team also found bacteria that keep the city livable, by sopping up hazardous chemicals or digesting toxic waste. They could even track the trail of bacteria created by the city’s taste for pizza—identifying microbes associated with cheese and sausage at scores of subway stops.


Initial database searches with subway DNA, for instance, turned up false matches to the Tasmanian devil, the Himalayan yak and the Mediterranean fruit fly—all creatures highly unlikely to be found in a New York transit system.


They also found a trace of anthrax DNA on a railing at one station and on a handhold in a subway car.

Yeah. The bubonic plague and anthrax. But hey, at least they found a lot of mozzarella, too.

And no, you don't need to panic; most of the dangerous bacteria they found is at levels that make it very unlikely you to catch something from them. In fact, breathing on the subway has about the same amount of bacteria of fresh air on the New York City streets.

Not sure if that says more about the cleanliness of the subway or the air in New York.