April 26th, 2019 10:15 PM by Dan Howard
You have probably seen the pictures of crowds in Japan where there
are some of the people are wearing respirator masks. The reason is not
what most of us would guess. Americans tend to wear the masks to protect
themselves from getting sick from other people if they have immune
In the Japanese culture. if you have a contagious illness you have a
responsibility to wear the mask to protect the well people. Americans
are usually not as careful to “keep illness to themselves.”
That having been said, here are the public areas you may not have
thought about that could be a source of you getting sick with
suggestions to avoid the risk.
Doors Handles on Swinging Doors The button to turn on the hand dryer or the lever to start the paper towel coming out.
The best solution for you is to use an elbow or shoulder to open or start these things when you can.
Keypads. ATMs, Security Access Pads, elevator
buttons, and other such places where hundreds of people touch, but are
never cleaned can give you a contagious disease. A pencil of stylus are
the best solutions to keeping your fingers from delivering the
contamination to your body. If you do touch these things, do not touch
you face until you have used a hand sanitizer.
Menus Restaurant menus have 100 times more bacteria
than a toilet seat, says Charles Gerba, PhD, a microbiologist with the
University of Arizona, better known as Dr. Germ. They’re touched by
tons, but only wiped down once a day, if that, and usually with a used
rag. Instead of washing your hands before you sit down, scrub up after
you order. And never lay your silverware on top of the menu.
Drink Garnish Lemons limes, and other cut-up fruit
used on the rims of glasses are not usually cleaned before cutting or
handled with freshly washed hands. Many germs including E. coli have
been found on these when tested. Order your drinks without the garnish
to avoid this exposure. The little decoration is not worth the
potentially severe stomach and intestinal issues.
Public Water Fountains. Did you ever notice the
slime that is usually around the hole the water spouts from? If that
doesn’t paint the picture, think how many people have turned that
handle. Carry your own water bottle and avoid using these fountains.
Dirty Money The flu virus can live on a dollar bill
for 17 days! But no one uses gloves or tissues to handle money. The
answer is to wash your hands after you handle money. There is a very
good reason that food workers put on plastic gloves to handle food after
they touch money. We need to be just as vigilant and was our hands
after handling money, especially when we are eating food we will touch
such as a sandwich.
Shopping Carts Shopping cart handles can be
downright gross. Turns out you’re picking up more than just a loaf of
bread. That handle can be swarming with up to 11 million microorganisms,
including ones from raw meat. And just think about all the dirty
diapers on that seat — the same one you’re putting your produce on. A
lot of grocery stores have antibacterial wipes handy, so use them.
Hotel and Cruise Ships Rooms You do not know who was
the past person in your room or if they had a contagious illness. Door
handles, remotes, the sides of the racks you open to pit your suitcase
on, the desk, the light switch, the hair dryer…….and on and on. We
purchase large wipes before a trip and take 10 minutes to wipe down the
touch points in a hotel room.
Swimming Pools and Hot Tubs A pubic pool can have
pounds of poop floating around according to Michele Hlavsa, RN, chief of
the CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program. Little kids can carry as much as 10
grams of leftover feces on their rear ends, she says. They don’t make a
habit of washing off before jumping in, so all that poop just rinses
off into the pool. It adds up, and chlorine doesn’t kill everything. The
CDC found that more than half of pools test positive for E. coli, which can cause bloody diarrhea. Your best line of defense? Try not to swallow any water.
If that is not enough, consider the hot tub. They can have additional
disease organisms such as Legionella. The action of the jets puts those
little contagions into the air where you can inhale them and acquire
them. There are also other viruses and bacteria that swim in the water
and may not be killed because of a low level of chlorine or other
The bottom line is to be aware of the potential for disease exposure
in public. Changing a few habits may keep you healthy. This is
particularly important in times of high exposure risk such as flu season
or on a cruise where Norovirus has broken out