• Posted by CERC India
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The germ breeders around you

If you thought that disease causing micro-organisms are confined to garbage dumps, toilet seats and other obviously dirty surfaces, think again! There are many other germ-friendly spots. Some are described below.

Mobile phones: A ‘must have’ for almost all of us, they harbour more bacteria than a lavatory seat, the sole of a shoe or a door handle, says a professor of microbiology at Manchester Metropolitan University! Mobiles themselves generate heat. Also, they are held in hands or kept in pockets or bags which are normally warm and humid places. This combination of temperature and moisture causes breeding of germs, including staphylococcus aureus, which can cause from pimples and boils to pneumonia and meningitis.

Solution: Regularly clean your mobile with an antibiotic wipe and, whenever possible, store it in a cool, dry place.

Sandpits: Playing in sandpits may be a source of dangerous infections. When 107 sandpits in public parks were examined by Japanese microbiologists, about three-quarters contained cat faecal matter, with just under a tenth containing hazardous toxoplasma parasite eggs. The parasite can survive for days, and if they get onto a child’s hand and his/her mouth they can cause blindness.

Solution: Make sure children wash their hands thoroughly immediately after playing in sandpits. If you have no access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based cleanser. Encourage your kids to get involved in some other activity.

Cash points: ATMs and cash itself are among the biggest culprits for spreading disease. They are touched by thousands of people a day and hardly ever properly cleaned. In a study in UK, 40% of ATM keypads showed levels of bacteria which could cause severe gastroenteritis and a variety of skin infections.

Solution: After touching cash or ATM, keep your hands off your eyes, nose and mouth — three main entry points for bugs — until you’ve washed them with soap and water.

Hand dryers: The outlet nozzle of hand dryers is often contaminated by bacteria. The heat from the dryer can further increase the number of germs. When you use the dryer, bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli are blown onto your hands and into the atmosphere.

Solution: Wash and then dry your hands thoroughly using paper towels instead. According to a study, disposable paper towels remove 58% of bugs and cotton roller-towels 45%.

Shower heads: Researchers at the University of Colorado in the US have found that nearly a third of regular household shower heads contained significant levels of mycobacterium avium, a bug that causes lung infections. Showers have also been identified as a route for spreading other infectious diseases with a bacterium called pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Solution: Run the shower for 30 seconds before exposing yourself to stagnant water. Use metal shower heads, which are believed to resist the germ build-up.

Make-up testers: The tester samples at cosmetics shops can be host to many dangerous bugs, including herpes viruses. A researcher at Jefferson Medical College, Pennsylvania, found that all the make-up testers analysed contained E.coli that causes stomach cramps and diarrhoea. Dangerous staphylococcus and streptococcus bacteria were also found.

Solution: Avoid unnecessary use of make-up testers. Careful shops have cotton swabs for testers and clean the surface with a tissue dipped in alcohol after each customer.


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