By Grace Vasquez
I’ve had a cold twice, a stomach virus and vertigo all in the month of December lasting through first week of January. My doctor said aside from the vertigo, I touched something that was touched by a germie person. How could I have avoided it? Simple. Wash my hands! Or just avoid touching items that have been researched to have a lot of germs. Here’s a list of 7 things you should not touch. Oh list where were you last month?
Here’s the list:
1. Airplane food trays and seat pockets
Ugh note to self: carry wipes! Turns out nasty bugs will cling to a surface for days! Research has found Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (more commonly known as MRSA) lasted longest (168 hours) on material from a seat-back pocket. Really? How many times haven’t you grabbed the airline magazine to read? Also found was bacteria E.coli, which can cause kidney problems; E.coli survived longest (96 hours) on the material from the armrest of planes, according to research presented to the American Society for Microbiology earlier this year. Oh and of course, to be expected the planes restrooms another hot spot for germs. Gross!
2. Subway turnstiles and bus ticket machines
While most people know not to touch stainless steel poles on subways and buses especially during flu season, you may not think about subway turnstiles and bus ticket machines that are probably touched by even more people. Microbiologist at the University of Arizona, Charles Gerba says “They don’t routinely disinfect these machines.” Studies found commuters are six times more likely to develop an acute respiratory infection if they traveled recently by bus or train.
3. Office coffee stations and water coolers
We all know if a colleague has the sniffles (like Rick Stacy this morning) we keep away from them but then we go use the same coffee machine or water cooler. If germs like hard surfaces then no surprise you’ll find these rascals on 40 percent to 60 percent of common surfaces in offices, hotels and health care facilities. And don’t forget avoid doorknobs and other people’s keyboards.
4. Liquid soap in washrooms
Wait. Soap dispensers? Really? Really. The journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology found liquid soap itself can become contaminated with bacteria including fecal matter. “Washing with soap from dispensers with sealed refills significantly reduced bacteria on hands,” the study found. So what’s the solution? Bring your own soap.
5. Aisle seats in planes, trains and theaters
Bus, train, planes or theaters avoid the aisle seats. Aisle seats are touched by the most people making their way to their seat. Members of a tour group experienced diarrhea and vomiting in an airplane flight from Boston to Los Angeles in 2008.
6. Salt and pepper shakers
I’ve always wondered about the shakers on a table at a restaurant! More than 40 percent of the surfaces tested positive for rhinovirus, the most common virus to cause the common cold.
7. Exercise equipment at the gym
As if I needed another reason to avoid the gym, well, here it is! One study found the rhinovirus clinged to exercise equipment even after cleaning! Ugh. Why? Because bacteria love moisture, especially sweat! Sadly, many colds and flu are spread around the home, says Elizabeth Scott, associated professor at the Department of Biology at Simmons College in Boston. But it’s always good to leave the house prepared. “When I am traveling, I always carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer and use it many times,” she adds.
So what did we learn? We need to live life in a bubble! Okay, basically we are surrounded by germs. Since I got so ill this past month I now have hand sanitizer on my desk, can of disinfecting spray and I carry traveling size with me in my bag and car. The key is to remember wash your hands and don’t touch anything…EVER AGAIN! ~grace