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article imageStudy: Toilets Are Cleaner Than Office Keyboards

By Chris V. Thangham     May 5, 2008 in Health
According to a new study by British researchers, there was more high-risk bacteria found on office keyboards than on toilet seats.
A consumer advocacy group commissioned the tests in which British microbiologist James Francis and his team tested 33 keyboards in an office and took swabs of those products, toilet seats and the toilet door handle from the office.
The results showed keyboard had extremely high levels of bacteria putting many of them at risk. One keyboard in particular was found to contain 150 times more than the normal limit for bacteria. The researchers found E.coli, staphylococcus aureus, among others.
The main causes were office workers tend to eat snack and regular foods at their desk during work hours as well as during lunch breaks. Poor personal hygiene is also being blamed for helping the bacteria to thrive.
Cleaning keyboards regularly and washing hands frequently with soap before eating foods may minimize the problem.
A survey found around 50 per cent cleaned their keyboard less than once a month. I use a plastic cover around the keyboard to minimize dust particles and to prevent drink spills. I change them with wear and use a disinfectant to clean once a week. So far it has worked fine at the office.
Recently there was a keyboard incident that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. A norovirus outbreak at a Washington D.C. elementary school in February 2007 sickened more than 100 students. They said it may have spread through a computer mouse and keyboard in one first-grade classroom, which tested positive for the virus linked to a disease commonly called stomach flu.
Dr. Aaron Glatt, president and chief executive officer of New Island Hospital in Bethpage, N.Y., and spokesperson for the Infectious Disease Society of America, did a similar swab test at various locations in the New York City subway system and found high levels of bacteria at some places. But he advised us not to panic over this report.
Glatt told ABC News: "There is no surface under the sun ... that is sterile…I think we have to say that there is overwhelming evidence that this is not a danger for most people…People can't go crazy about the worry and concern of being exposed to bacteria."
He added even though we cannot dismiss it totally, some simple actions could solve this problem at workplace or at any other place.
The trick is to try and minimize and limit your exposure within a reasonable context…Hand washing is the single best, cheapest, most effective way to limit your exposure you have throughout your life with potentially dangerous bacteria. It's amazing how this basic, basic advice is ignored by huge numbers of people every day.
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