Students at the University of Adelaide have been advised to avoid wearing shoes as a precaution as they are a “serious health risk” due to the harmful effects of carium a.k.a. shoe fungus, a.s. a fungus that causes blistering.
The fungus, which can cause blistering and other skin infections, is spread by walking on the ground and spreading via foot fungus, the University’s Vice-Chancellor for Student Affairs Dr Helen Pidds told ABC Radio Adelaide.
“We are very concerned about the spread of the fungus, particularly if people walk barefoot in a very hot climate,” she said.
“People can develop blistering of the feet, or foot ulcers, and the fungus can cause ulcers in the feet.”
“We’re very concerned that it can lead to serious health problems.
It can be spread to other people.”
The University’s Footwear Advisory Committee (FAC) is advising students against wearing shoes while attending classes.
“It’s something that we take very seriously and will take action on as necessary,” Pidd said.
Dr Pidd says there is also a risk of the virus spreading to other students and staff, who could spread it to others.
“There is no evidence of transmission to staff or students,” she told ABC Adelaide.
Dr Helen, who has been involved in the research into the fungus for more than 15 years, said people wearing shoes to work could also transmit the fungus.
“I think it’s quite important that we look at all the possible pathways that can lead people to become infected,” she explained.
Dr Tanya, who recently returned to work after undergoing treatment for carium, said the decision to limit the use of shoes was a “good one”.
“I’ve had plenty of people telling me that they’re not able to go out without shoes, they’ve lost their job and they’re worried about their foot,” she says.
“They just don’t want to be walking around barefoot.”
She said wearing shoes in a public setting was a sign of weakness and not one that should be encouraged.
“What’s most important is you’re in a safe environment and your feet aren’t getting contaminated,” she added.
Dr Paul, who is also working on the carium research project, agrees that wearing shoes could lead to a “huge” spread of infection.
“In the workplace, when you are walking barefoot, your feet are exposed to people’s eyes, and if you don’t have your shoes on you are going to be vulnerable,” he said.
The ACT Government has already banned the use and sale of footwear in public places, and students are advised to not walk barefooted on the streets.
“As a society, we should be encouraging people to walk more, and I think that is one of the reasons why this is happening,” Dr Pidding said.
Footwear and public transport can also be restricted in the ACT, with Transport ACT banning the use, sale and distribution of shoes in public transport and walking routes.