Germ and Bacteria Hot-Spots: 12 Things You Should Know
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Unclean Office Objects
Claim: Your office desk is way dirtier than a toilet bowl.
True. The average desktop has 400 times more bacteria than a toilet bowl, simply because people usually don't clean their desks on a regular basis, says Gerba. Most of these germs are harmless, but in a recent study Gerba and his colleagues found the parainfluenza virus, which causes colds and flu, on about one-third of office surfaces. The germiest object: the phone. Viruses such as the flu can survive for two or three days on desktops, phones, and computer keyboards. They're transmitted when you touch contaminated objects and then put your hands on your nose, mouth, and eyes, says Gerba. (By the way, the door handle on the microwave in the office kitchen is also a very germy place. So be sure to wash your hands after heating up your lunch.) Keep microbe levels on your desk down by regularly cleaning with a disinfecting wipe, particularly during flu season. Don't apply disinfectant directly to equipment, which can damage it. Spray first on a paper towel. If you share a phone, clean it every day. Wash your hands often (with warm water and soap or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer), and don't touch your face, says Gerba.
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