Is Your Touch-Screen Dirtier than a Toilet Flusher?

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REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Insert “going viral” joke here: a study conducted by Stanford researchers found that letting your friends handle your cool new touch-screen device could mean sharing more than the latest technology. You could also be passing around all manner of viruses and bacteria, including the influenza virus.

The study found that the risk of transmitting illness-causing bugs through the glass surfaces of an iPhone, iPad, Droid or other similar device is pretty high. Study co-author, Stanford doctoral student Timothy Julian, spoke with the Sacramento Bee:

“If you put virus on a surface, like an iPhone, about 30 percent of it will get on your fingertips,” Julian said. In turn, “a fair amount of it may go from your fingers to your eyes, mouth or nose,” the most likely routes of infection.

It doesn’t help either that your phone is often wedged between your hands and your face, easing transfer of viruses and bacteria from one surface to another. One British study cited by the Bee found that cell phones have 18 times the amount of fecal matter, E. coli and Staphyloccocus aureus (the bacteria that causes staph infections) than do the flushers in a typical men’s bathrooms. (More on Want Good Health? There Are 10 Apps for That)

But even if you could keep your fingers off your friend’s mobile phone, you’d still be picking up germs from elevator buttons, doorknobs, ATM touch-screens, self-checkout kiosks and the like. So the best piece of advice for staying flu-free is the same low-tech thing your mother used to tell you: wash your hands.

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