Germs found lurking on Halloween costumes

Posted at: 10/29/2012 9:21 PM
Updated at: 10/30/2012 11:11 AM
By: Chris Ramirez and Peter St. Cyr, KOB Eyewitness News

Halloween is full of superstitions and spooky houses.

It’s a good time to dress up and go trick or treating. People love trying on different costumes and disguising themselves as ghosts, zombies and even werewolves.

Of course, everyone expects to see scary things on Halloween night.

But, be warned. After shopping for masks and wigs, KOB’s 4 On Your Side team discovered another scary holiday fact – costume masks and wigs can be breeding grounds for germs and bacteria.

Using an undercover camera, we found masks lying on store floors and watched customers trying everything on in sight.

What most customers don’t realize is that the masks they are trying on have already touched the faces and eyes of countless other shoppers.

Our 4OYS producer bought several masks, a few wigs, and even items he found in a discount bin at a local thrift store. After shopping, we delivered the costumes to Qwest Diagnostics for testing.

"We found bacteria that actually grew," Lab Director John Golobic said.

Cultures showed signs of staph, strep, and other micrococcus.

Golobic said families have to take precautions.

“Anything that you can do to protect yourself is always a good thing.”

He said some of the bacteria could even cause pink eye (an extremely infectious disease), skin rashes, and others that could spread cold viruses.

Albuquerque shopper J.P. Pacheco woke up early Saturday. After decorating his yard with tombstones and lights that look like ghosts and pumpkins he went shopping for masks with his girlfriend’s son Fabian.

Pacheco told KOB Eyewitness News even though he saw other people touching and wearing masks he tried on himself he never thought about germs while he was shopping.

“You really don’t realize how much germs and bacteria those masks can carry without them properly wiping them down,” Pacheco said. “It’s pretty disgusting.”