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Posts Tagged ‘germs’

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It’s flu and cold season.  Avoiding germs helps us avoid the flu and colds, so where are the germs lurking?  You might be surprised to find where you can encounter the most germs.

 

  • Home: Your kitchen is the germiest place. It has more bacteria than your bathrooms due to the germs on raw meat and produce.  Clean and disinfect or sanitize your kitchen sink often.  If you use a sponge, be sure to run it through the dishwasher after each use.  Also, make sure to disinfect your kitchen counter-tops.  Cold and flu germs can usually remain active on stainless steel, plastic and similar hard surfaces longer than on fabric or other types of soft surfaces. iphone-37856__340
  • Cellphone: Since we carry our cellphones everywhere, they are usually loaded with bacteria including viruses like the flu.  Frequently clean your smartphone with an alcohol-free antiseptic wipe. (Alcohol is not good for your screen.)
  • Purse: Do you hang your purse or set it on the floor?  Floors are really dirty places, especially restroom floors. Hang your purse on a hook or the back of a chair when possible, never put your purse on the kitchen counter, and regularly wipe your purse with a disinfectant wipe.
  • Workplace: You may think the worst place is the restroom, but the ground-floor elevator will probably beat it out for the germiest place.  Another place is the break room- especially the coffee pot handle and the water dispenser.  Wash your hand as soon as you can after touching either one of these items. menu
  • Restaurants: Guess what everyone touches?  The menu has the most bacteria.  Thus, after ordering your food, go to the restroom and wash your hands or take some hand sanitizer and use it before eating.
  • Grocery Stores: If you guessed the grocery cart, you are right.  Use a disinfecting wipe on the handles.  If you use reusable grocery bags, put them on the floor, not the kitchen counter, and wash them often in hot water and bleach.  Always wash your hands or sanitize them after shopping.

Washing your hands often with soap and water is the key to avoiding getting sick. hands-2238235__340 This is the best way to reduce the germs you are exposed to. Be sure to wash your hands for 20 seconds and build up a lather before rinsing.

And remember, eating nutritious food and being physically active will also help you stay healthy and fight infections.

Hope you avoid the flu and colds this season!

 

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fayette County

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County

 

References:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2018).  Preventive Steps.  Available at  https://www.cdc.gov/flu/consumer/prevention.htm

Leamy, E. (2017). The Most Germ-Infested Places You Encounter Every Day – and How to Avoid Getting Sick. The Washington Post.  Available at https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/12/17/the-most-germ-infested-places-you-encounter-every-day-and-how-to-avoid-getting-sick/

Steckelberg, J. M. (2015).  Flu Germs:  How Long Can They Live Outside the Body?  Mayo Clinic.  Available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/flu/expert-answers/infectious-disease/faq-20057907.

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shoes

When you put on your shoes, do you ever pause for a moment to think about where those shoes have been? Every time you walk, your shoes pick up a multitude of unwanted substances.  A recent study found nine different species of bacteria on the bottom of people’s shoes.  And what’s even scarier, the study found that bacteria live longer on shoes than many other hard surfaces.

Specific examples found on shoe soles included E coli, tetanus, strep, hepatitis, and C difficile. Researchers also discovered viruses, parasites, fungi, allergens and toxic substances.  Eeuuw.

The substances listed above were picked up from streets, sidewalks, and the floors of office buildings. Included in this toxic mix were:

  • Remnants of feces from dogs, cats, rodents, birds and other wildlife, and humans
  • Urine from the same sources
  • Remains from insects and rodents
  • Remnants of garbage including food waste and toxic cleaning products
  • Excretions such as saliva, mucus, sweat, blood or vomit
  • Residue from insecticides, gasoline, oils and grease
  • Urine and germs from restroom floors
  • Soil contaminated with lead, pesticides, lawn chemicals and/or toxic wood preservatives from lawns and parks

The reason shoes can harbor such a motley assortment of “ick” is because most shoe soles are made from leather, rubber or other porous materials that allow for the absorption of microscopic substances. Once inside your home, contaminated shoes can become a source of disease; spreading germs to carpets and floors.

Tiled floors may be a substantial source of bacteria (90% of floors surveyed found unwanted substances), but are fortunately easy to sanitize. Unfortunately, when you walk on any of your home floors in your bare feet, germs may attach to the bottom of your feet and subsequently end up on furniture and beds.  Children playing on the floor can be exposed to germs through their hands, clothing, and/or mouth.  And pets have the potential to pick up and spread these germs as well.

Takeaway?

The best practice you can institute is to ask everyone to remove their shoes before entering the house to reduce the risk of bringing contaminants into the home.  Clean shoes with a sanitizing shoe mat, sanitizer wipes or a sanitizer sprayed on the bottom of your shoes.   Most importantly, leave your shoes at the door!

Written by:  Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

Sources: http://microbiomejournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40168-015-0082-9

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