12 Places Germs Lurk
Public health experts tell WebMD about the 'dirty dozen' of places where germs love to hide.
Germy Place No. 8: Day Care Centers
The risk: During a diaper change, children may get fecal
matter on their hands and then touch a toy. When another child plays with the
same toy and then sucks his or her thumb, infection can occur. This is called
fecal-oral transmission, and Archibald says it's a common source of diarrheal
illness in children. Since young kids love to put things in their mouths,
shared toys can also become contaminated with saliva.
Your defense: Ensure your children are immunized
appropriately and avoid sending them to day care when they are sick, Moser
advises. In addition, make sure your day care provider washes children's hands
after a diaper change.
Germy Place No. 9: Schools
The risk: As Moser puts it, "Any gathering of children
is a place of questionable hygiene." Even though school-aged children may
have grown out of habits like thumb sucking or putting toys in their mouth,
they may be less than diligent about washing their hands when they should.
Your defense: Set a good example by washing your hands
often at home, Moser suggests. Teach kids why it's important to wash hands
after using the bathroom or before eating meals, and show them how to do it
Germy Place No. 10: Your Home
The risk: You don't have to leave home to have a close
encounter with germs -- just travel as far as your kitchen or bathroom.
According to Moser, raw foods frequently contaminate kitchen surfaces with
bacteria, which aren't killed when you wipe off the counter with a wet cloth or
sponge. As for the bathroom, intestinal pathogens can contaminate the toilet
seat, flush handle, towels, doorknobs, sink, and other surfaces you might touch
after using the toilet.
Your defense: Keep in mind that cleaning is not the same as
disinfection, Moser says. His advice:
- Clean kitchens and bathrooms regularly with bleach or a color-safe
- After handling raw foods, wash cutting boards and knives with soap and hot
- Microwave wet sponges for one minute to kill germs.
- Change hand-drying towels often.
- Close the lid before flushing the toilet to keep germs from contaminating
Germy Place No. 11: Your Doctor's Office
The risk: You may not think of your doctor's office as
germy, but remember that you are sharing a small space with many people who may
have infectious illnesses. Waiting room chairs, doorknobs, toys, and even your
doctor's clothing can become contaminated. According to Archibald, those most
at risk for picking up germs at the doctor's office are patients who have some
type of medical procedure.
Your defense: Try to avoid touching doorknobs or other
surfaces, or wash your hands afterward. When taking your child to the
pediatrician, bring toys and books from home. Speak up if you don't see your
health care provider wash his or her hands before your exam or procedure, Moser
warns. "Say, 'I don't want to be disrespectful, but would you please wash