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Fight germ invasion

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Can anything be worse than knowing there is more bacteria on your work desk, your phone and on your kitchen sponge than in your toilet? According to Chuck Gerba, PhD, a professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona in Tucson, research shows there are many places you may not have considered as germ infested.

Dr. Gerba discovered that bacteria some including E.coli (a large,diverse group of bacteria) were found on more than fifty percent of shopping carts.

Before you panic, experts give suggestions and information needed to minimize risks of contracting disease.

Neil Fishman, MD, director of health care epidemiology and infection control for the University of Pennsylvania Health System, notes there hasn't been evidence of disease outbreaks from touching handles of shopping carts. He does suggest using alcohol hand rubs.

Dr. Gerba states that the reason many objects have more bacteria than your toilet is because they are not cleaned on a routine basis. Some areas he sites at work are your desk, your keyboard and especially your phone. Be aware of objects in communal areas.

Most viruses are primarily spread from an infected person to another through sneezing and coughing. Viruses can also spread by touching a contaminated object then touching your face. The CDC recommends "...cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze." Wash your hands often and avoid touching your face.

It is helpful to know that research shows that while we are surrounded by bacteria, not all are harmful. The Mayo Clinic staff reports that of all bacteria " ... less than 1 percent cause disease." Your built-in germ fighter, your immune system, also protects you from many germs.

It is wise to notice items you touch frequently and adopt simple cleaning procedures.

Doctors suggest washing your hands for at least twenty seconds preferably a minute or use a disinfectant wipe, use tissues for a cough or sneeze and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

Just by taking these measures, you reduce chances of contracting disease. Dr. Gerba found improvements seen up to 37 percent by simple cleaning and disinfecting only.

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