In a study by researches from the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, tests performed on various books showed the herpes virus was present on Fifty Shades of Grey among other books. Tests were run on the ten most popular books at the Antwerp Library in Belgium. Tango by Pieter Aspe, a romance and Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James are two books checked out most frequently.
Tests on these and other books showed they not only had the herpes virus on their covers, by there were also trace amounts of cocaine found on all ten books. “The levels found won’t have a pharmacological effect. Your consciousness or behaviour won’t change as a result of reading the tomes,” said Jan Tytgat, professor of toxicology at Catholic University and one of the scientists who conducted the tests. Additional ‘microbes’ were also found on the books — “We just counted them all up … ‘one, two, three, OK, there are 16 spots … ew, gross,'” said team member Joshua Nicholson. The research team did not openly identify what microbes were present, but did state that, “the books harboured far less bacteria than the library doorknobs.”
In a similar project, Brigham Young University students also conducted tests on library books and found “books in high demand averaged 25-40% more microbial life than neglected volumes.”
The Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, concluded: “The microbial flora on the surfaces of 15 books obtained from a public library and from 15 books obtained from a family household were studied. Staphylococcus epidermidis was recovered from four of the library books and three of the family household books. The number of organisms per page was between one to four. This data illustrates the safety of using library books, as they do not serve as a potential source of transmission of virulent bacteria.”
However, in Japan they have installed Bacteria Elimination Boxes, a box with UV rays that kills harmful microbes at their libraries. The Tokyo Times reports that this box will only clean book covers and not the interior pages.
Washing your hands after reading a library book is considered ample protection against any trace amounts of harmful bacteria found on books.