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The eight germiest public places...
We have our Australian industry colleague John Laws of the Australian Cleaning Contactors' Alliance, to thank for the following article: 'Excerpt from The List Maker's Get-Healthy Guide, By the Editors of Prevention'. It reveals some surprising germ pick-up points and offers several useful tips on the best way to avoid picking up germs...
An average adult can touch as many as 30 objects within a minute, including germ-harbouring, high-traffic surfaces such as light switches, doorknobs, phone receivers, and remote controls. At home, you do all that you can to keep the germs at bay. But what happens when you step out the door to go to dinner, do some grocery shopping, or visit the doctor's office? Know where germs are most likely to lurk, as you'll find out here.
1. Restaurant menus
Have you ever seen anyone wash off a menu? Probably not. A recent study in the Journal of
Medical Virology reported that cold and flu viruses can survive for 18 hours on hard surfaces. If it's a popular restaurant, hundreds of people could be handling the menus - and passing their germs on to you. Never let a menu touch your plate or silverware, and wash your hands after you place your order. Or use antibacterial wipes.
2. Lemon wedges
According to a 2007 study in the Journal of Environmental Health, nearly 70% of the lemon
wedges perched on the rims of restaurant glasses contain disease-causing microbes. When the researchers ordered drinks at 21 different restaurants, they found 25 different microorganisms lingering on the 76 lemons that they secured, including E. coli and other faecal bacteria. Tell your server that you'd prefer your beverage without fruit. Why risk it?
Drinking lemon water instead of soda is a good weight loss strategy. But you don't have to ditch your diet just because you're eating out.
3. Condiment dispensers
It's the rare eatery that regularly bleaches its condiment containers. And the reality is that many people don't wash their hands before eating, says Kelly Reynolds, PhD. So while you may be diligent, the guy who poured the ketchup before you may not have been, which means his germs are now on your fries. Squirt hand sanitiser on the outside of the condiment bottle or use a disinfectant wipe before you grab it. Holding the bottle with a napkin won't help; napkins are porous, so microorganisms can pass right through, Dr Reynolds says.
4. Washroom door handles
Don't think you can escape the restroom without touching the door handle? Palm a spare paper towel after you wash up and use it to grasp the handle. Yes, other patrons may think you're a germophobe - but you'll never see them again, and you're the one who won't get sick.
5. Soap dispensers
About 25% of public washroom dispensers are contaminated with faecal bacteria. Soap that harbours bacteria may seem ironic, but that's exactly what a recent study found. "Most of these containers are never cleaned, so bacteria grow as the soap scum builds up," says Charles Gerba, PhD. "And the bottoms are touched by dirty hands, so there's a continuous culture feeding millions of bacteria." Be sure to scrub hands thoroughly with plenty of hot water for 15 to 20 seconds - and if you happen to have an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, use that, too.
6. Supermarket trollies - Never cleaned in their lifetime!
7. Airplane bathrooms
When Dr Gerba tested for microbes in the bathrooms of commercial jets, he found surfaces from faucets to doorknobs to be contaminated with E. coli. It's not surprising, then, that you're 100 times more likely to catch a cold when you're airborne, according to a recent study in the Journal of Environmental Health Research.
8. Doctor's office
* A doctor's office is not the place to be if you're trying to avoid germs. These tips can help limit your exposure:
* Take your own books and magazines (and children's toys, if you have your children or grandchildren with you)
* Also pack your own tissues and hand sanitizsers, which should be at least 60% alcohol content
* In the waiting room, leave at least two chairs between you and the other patients to reduce your chances of picking up their bugs. Germ droplets from coughing and sneezing can travel about three feet.
20th February 2014