How to protect against bacteria on common public objects

Germs, they're everywhere

ABILENE, Texas - Germs: they're everywhere. They're a fact of life, but there are ways to keep them from getting you sick.

We talked to Hendrick Regional Laboratory Microbiology Supervisor, Pam Hale to get the facts.

"The world is not a sterile place so you have germs on any location you're going to touch," said Hale.

A recent study from the Journal of Environmental Health showed on average most people touch 30 objects a minute: light switches, key pads in public places, magazines in waiting rooms, money, the list goes on and on. On those things are germs and bacteria that can potentially make you sick.

"It can be very serious. A lot of people especially those that have lower immune systems get influenza. You can contract it and become very ill and there are people who die of that every year," said Hale.

Be aware: public telephones, bathroom soap dispensers, even the handles on grocery carts all have been found to have some amount of fecal bacteria on them. So how can you fight back?

Wipe off those grocery handles with an antibacterial wipe. Use paper towels to turn off the faucet in restrooms and to open the door. Washing your hands vigorously is the best defense but if there's no soap around opt for hand sanitizer instead. Remember to rub your hands and allow it to dry. The friction actually helps to decrease the bacteria on your hands.

But you can't avoid germs forever and that's where our natural defenses come into play.

"We have a wonderful immune system that produces antibodies to the pathogens we're exposed to and if you actually think about it, we're not actually ill that often by the organisms that we contact in the environment," said Hale.

Another big place of concern for germs: daycare. So be sure to teach your kiddos early to wash their hands. 

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