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12 Places Germs Lurk

Public health experts tell WebMD about the 'dirty dozen' of places where germs love to hide.

Germy Place No. 12: Hospitals

The risk: "More people die from hospital-related infections every year than from car accidents," Moser says, citing CDC data. This is not because hospitals are unsanitary, but because there is a high concentration of germs and vulnerable people in the same place. There is also increased risk of exposure to bacteria that are resistant to treatment with antibiotics.

"The area of hospitals with the most infections is the ICU (intensive care unit)," Archibald tells WebMD. Intensive care patients may have compromised immune systems, along with surgical wounds or medical devices that can introduce germs. "Patients need to realize this is a risk," Archibald says.

Your defense: The Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths recommends looking for hospitals and surgeons with a low infection rate ahead of any planned procedure. In addition, always ask hospital staff and visitors to wash their hands before touching you.

The Universal Germ Fighter

All of our experts stress that there is one simple strategy for fighting germs in almost any setting: Wash your hands. "Do it often and do it correctly," Moser says. "That can't be overemphasized."

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