Don't Touch That Dial

One hundred years ago, infectious diseases were the leading cause of death, but germs are not a thing of the past, they are flourishing in our modern tech society, at work and at home.


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According to the Daily Mail, a British newspaper, they are crawling all over our cell phones due to constant use and the heat generated by the phones themselves. Joanna Verran, a professor of microbiology at Manchester Metropolitan University, says, "Mobile phones are stored in bags or pockets, are handled frequently and held close to the face. In other words, they come into contact with more parts of our body and a wider range of bacteria than toilet seats."

These germs include Straphylococcus aureus, close to the superbug MRSA and due to the frequent use of antibiotics, these germs are becoming more resistant to treatment. This germ can cause types of illnesses from boils and pimples, to pneumonia and meningitis.

Cell phone maker Samsung took the first step last year by producing and selling a phone, SPH-V6500 and SCH-V650, that has an antibacterial silver nano-particle coating. When it is estimated that every 60 seconds a working adult touches as many as 30 objects, it becomes obvious that steps must be taken.

University of Arizona Professor Charles Gerba has some simple advice. "Dr. Germ", as he is called, says, "With just a simple cleaning and disinfecting program-and no other change in behavior- we saw improvements that range from 10 to 37 percent." Dr Gerba has appeared on television on many programs, including 20/20, Dateline and Good Morning America. He has co-authored a recent book with Allison Janse, The Germ Freak's Guide, detailing how to stay healthy at work and at home.

The phone is listed as the most germ covered object in an office, followed by the desktop, keyboard, mouse, fax and photocopier. One phone tested was covered with between 10-50 million bacteria! Frequent cleaning of these tools with antibacterial wipes and "proper hand hygiene by washing with soap and water or by using alcohol based sanitizers," as Gerba advises, will go a long way in keeping you and the office safe.

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