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The Sources of Your Viral Infection Hide in Plain Sight

Staying on the theme of cleanliness, with a few minutes to spare yesterday to do Google-based research, I discovered a batch of news sources that discussed an obvious source of harmful bacteria that I suspect most people -- me included -- have overlooked: The shopping cart.

Although there haven't been more recent studies done on this, the one I located via the Net was pretty scary. The lowlights, as it were, were part of studies done at the University of Arizona. Researchers found 21 percent of shopping carts tested to contain bodily fluids, and the handles can harbor such goodies as staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, E coli and even hepatitis B.

After I did a bit more digging, however, I found shopping carts were only tied for number two with chair seats and arm rests in terms of germs. The remainder of list was just as disturbing:

  • Bus rails or arm rests -- 35 percent
  • Escalator handrails -- 19 percent
  • Customer-shared pens -- 16 percent
  • Vending machine knobs -- 14 percent
  • Public telephones -- 13 percent
  • Elevator buttons -- 10 percent
  • Grocery store freezer handles -- 6 percent

That's why I remind you often the best protection from disease is often the simplest: Washing your hands after touching pets, shopping carts and the like with plain ol' soap and water.

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