Post #22: Five Surprising Hotspots for Bacteria

Did you know that the average person can touch up to 300 surfaces in just 30 minutes? Surfaces that are potentially riddled with germs, viruses and bacteria – and that’s just in your own home!  Some studies have found that the human hand can play host to more than 150 species of bacteria.

 

All these facts and numbers translate to one thing: constant contamination.

 

Objects you use every day are infested with thousands of bacteria and viruses, ranging from the common rhinovirus to salmonella. Some of the most widely recognized “hotspots” for bacteria are your remote control, your doorknobs, your cell phone and of course, your kitchen sponge. But you may be surprised to hear of a few more bacteria-riddled objects you come in contact with every day. Grab your Lysol or sanitizer and read on!

 

  1. Your Pillow

Sure, you wash your sheets frequently, but how often do you wash your pillow? If you’re just throwing your pillowcases in the wash, take heed: studies have shown that the average pillow has over one million fungal spores. The species most commonly found was Aspergillus fumigatus, which can exacerbate sinusitis and asthma and even trigger an attack. It can also cause Aspergillosis, a potentially deadly infection.

What to do: Wash your pillow in hot water and be sure to replace it every year. If possible, avoid synthetic pillows as they tend to carry more fungal load per gram.

 

2. Your Showerhead

Researchers in Colorado have made a particularly frightening discovery: showerheads are a breeding ground for thousands of infectious microbes. These disease-causing germs become lodged in the showerhead and create a thick coat of slime called biofilm. When you turn on the water, the bacteria and biofilm are sprayed all over you and your shower. The most common germ found in showerheads is Mycobacterium avium, which can cause lung infections.

 

What to do: Buy a metal showerhead, which harbors fewer bacteria than plastic ones, and be sure to scrub it with a steel brush and a good cleanser. Replace the entire showerhead at least once a year.

3. Your Keyboard

Do you ever eat at your desk? Well, you might want to think twice next time. Studies have found that the typical keyboard has 3,295 bacteria per square inch – that’s 100 times more than the typical office toilet. One study showed that VRE and MRSA bacteria found on hospitals keyboards were capable of surviving more than 24 hours after contamination.

 

What to do: Clean keyboards weekly with rubbing alcohol and q-tips and be sure to wash hands after using your computer. Also, some hospitals and schools are trying out new washable keyboards, which can be rinsed in soap and water.

4. Public Soap Dispensers

Bacteria in … soap? Unfortunately, yes. According to one study, a quarter of the soap dispensers in public restaurants are contaminated with pathogens and viable bacteria. The highest levels were in open refillable bulk soap reservoir dispensers, which can be filled with liquid soap as needed. Another study found that 50 to 55 percent of dispensers at health facilities were contaminated with coliforms, a type of fecal bacteria.

What to do: Look for bathrooms equipped with either touch-free soap dispensers or sealed, one-time-use systems. Another option is to carry “soap sheets” with you – portable strips or sheets of soap that are activated under running water.

 

5. Your Can Opener

Your trusty can opener comes in contact with several different types of food – and every time the blade touches food bacteria starts breeding. Multiple this by every time you’ve opened a can of tuna or tomatoes and you have one serious hot-spot for germs and bacteria.

What to do: Wash your can opener with soap and hot water after every use.  Some newer can openers are designed to cut the outside rim of the can (instead of the inside) so the blade never comes in contact with your food.

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