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The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that up to 80% of all infections are spread by hand contact with contaminated surfaces.
I surveyed our office and first to people’s minds when I said “name a germy place” was the doctor’s office, the bottom of your shoe and cell phones. (All are indeed on the list!) Here are some of the germiest places around —and prepare to be grossed out.
Kitchen sponges are notorious for harboring bacterial creepy crawlies, but what about the kitchen towels? A study recently conducted in homes across the U.S found that about 7% of kitchen towels contained MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) which is a very stubborn staph bacteria. Using towels to mop up spills and clear counter-tops is exactly how the bacteria attaches to the cloth and will lie in wait, ready to infect.
The bottom of your shoes is definitely a dirty place. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Arizona found nine different species of bacteria on people’s shoes. The study also found bacteria live longer on our shoes than in other places. The constant walking and contact our shoes see means they are continually picking up new debris that feeds the existing bacteria.
Restaurant menus are another place you probably haven’t considered. According to a study in the Journal of Medical Virology, cold and flu viruses can survive for 18 hours on hard surfaces. Think about how many hands are on a restaurant menu on any given day.
It’s not something you want to think about, but where are all the sick people? The doctor’s office. While tools and examining rooms are sterilized, avoid contact in common areas— use your own pen to sign in with, bring your own magazine, and sit as far away from other people as you can.
Grocery carts are another hard surface to beware of. The University of Arizona conducted a test in 2007 that found two-thirds of shopping carts tested were positive for fecal bacteria contamination. Luckily, some grocery stores have started offering disinfectant wipe dispensers near the cart area. Take advantage of those!
Germs are transmitted and contracted most commonly through hand-to-mouth contact. This leads me to the cell phones. An article published in the journal of Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials found that 94% of phones tested were contaminated with a bacteria of some sort.
Money is, of course, at the top of the list. But let’s talk about where you get your money. After testing 38 ATMs in downtown Taipei, Chinese researches discovered that each key housed an average of 1,200 germs, including dangerous microbes like E. coli and cold and flu viruses.