Beware!! They are Everywhere and Watching You!! - Part II
Like a furtive prowler, germs creep throughout your home and office, taking refuge in damp, murky crevices and corners and non-sterile surfaces. You may not conceive their virulent nature, as they often produce havoc subtly, in disguise as a cold, flu, etc. However, germs induce numerous serious diseases and ailments and spread easily, making it necessary to understand the best means to annihilate them.
In the home or office, you can encounter the following germs and others:
• Streptococcus: These bacteria cause aliments such as pneumonia and scarlet fever.
• Staphylococcus: The staphylococcus bacteria are responsible for various conditions and illnesses, from boils to food poisoning to toxic shock syndrome.
• E coli: Friend and foe, certain types of E. coli are vital components of the digestive tract while pathogenic strains are harmful, causing diarrhea, urinary tract infections, meningitis, and other disorders.
• Salmonella: Salmonellosis is a bacterial infection caused by salmonella that, if severe and not treated promptly, can lead to hospitalization and even death.
• Shigella: These bacteria cause dysentery, an intestinal infection that induces severe, bloody, mucus-filled diarrhea.
• Hepatitis A: This virus causes liver disease, but it is rarely fatal.
• Various Sexually Transmitted Maladies
• Common Cold and Flu
As repugnant as a rodent dinner companion, unless Ratatouille’s endearing Remy dines with you, germs should be eluded like an errant bullet. Dr. John Oxford, professor of virology at the University of London and Chair of the Hygiene Counsel–an international organization that examines hygiene standards worldwide–would concur. He states emphatically that the abundant existence of bacteria, particularly E coli, in homes worldwide ‘ “[is] huge” ’ and essentially makes people highly vulnerable to pernicious pathogenic organisms as salmonella. Dr. Oxford asserts that people rely too heavily on “Lady Luck” rather than acting proactively to prevent the spreading of germs. Changing this reality begins with knowledge. Germs are dispersed in the following ways:
When a person uses the bathroom, some germs from fecal matter are transferred to that person’s hands. Anything that the person subsequently touches–door handles, food, other people, etc.– will become contaminated unless he/she employs proper hand washing techniques.
Droplets in the Air
If an ill person sneezes or coughs without covering his/her mouth, small water droplets become airborne and can infect anyone who comes in contact with them.
Tap water can carry and spread germs, such as salmonella and hepatitis A.
Sharing Clothing and Towels
For example, trachoma, a bacterial infection of the eye and the leading cause of infectious blindness worldwide, is transmitted by personal contact, such as sharing clothing or towels.
Understanding the ways that germs spread makes it easier to evade them. Knowing the best techniques to obliterate them is equally expedient and, I think, exciting!
Proper Hand Washing
According to the University of Arizona’s world-renowned microbiologist, Dr. Charles Gerba, the germ expert, hand contact causes 80% of infections. Dr. Gerba’s research shows that a mere 3.5% of people wash their hands thoroughly enough to actually eliminate germs. These insights certainly make you reluctant to shake someone’s hand. Nevertheless, you would need to employ additional precautionary measures to assuredly safeguard your health. Studies indicate that every sixty seconds a working adult handles as many as thirty objects. Therefore, even if you avoid shaking someone’s hand, you may still touch door knobs, desks, keyboards, and other objects that the person polluted. At home, the situation is similarly grim. Rob Dunn, North Carolina State biologist, and his colleagues tested forty homes and discovered nearly 8,000 different bacterial strains, the most common of which derived from the gut and human fecal matter.
Fecal matter is indeed everywhere. However, your first line of defense is also the simplest–wash your hands thoroughly.
After pumping soap into your hands, wash them completely, including between your fingers and under your nails, for twenty to thirty seconds using warm water. Rinse thoroughly and then repeat. Note that antibacterial soap is ineffective and that an alcohol-based sanitizer may be used when soap and water are unavailable.
Ridding Laundry of Fecal Matter
As my previous article mentioned, your “clean” laundry is dirty. Dr. Gerba proclaims that there is approximately a tenth a gram of feces in the average pair of underwear. While soap and water eliminate the dirt from your clothes, they do not kill the bacteria, such as E coli and salmonella, which originate from your undergarments. And these germs contaminate the washing machine and any clothes washed in it.
Sound Laundering Techniques
Wash an empty load of laundry, using the hot cycle and two cups of bleach. Afterward, wash your clothes, leaving your undergarments to launder last. Then, use bleach to sterilize your machine again. Otherwise, you can regularly add bleach or a bleach alternative, which also kills germs if it contains peroxide, to your laundry, a strategy that simultaneously disinfects your clothes and the machine. Still, wash your undergarments separately and last.
For delicate items that require mild soaps and air drying, hang them outside if possible, as the sun kills germs.
Cleaning Germ-laden Phones
Four hundred times more germs on a phone than a toilet seat. Accordingly, remember to clean your work and cell phone.
Phone Cleaning Technique
Fill a water bottle with 50% rubbing alcohol and 50% distilled water. (Do not use spring water. Germs also contaminate it.) For your cell phone, spray a lint-free cloth with the mixture and wipe the phone, front and back. Use the same procedure for your work phone, using a clean cloth or paper towel.
• Toothbrush: Change it every three months. Store it in a cabinet so that it is not contaminated when you flush the commode. Some authorities suggest placing it in the dishwasher for regular cleaning.
• Sheets, Pillow Cases, and Towels: Using a sterilized washing machine, launder these items 1 time per week using the hot cycle. In Dr. Dunn’s study, fecal matter was commonly found on pillow cases. So, cleanse your hands and face before bedtime.
• Hairbrushes: Wash weekly in hot, soapy water to eliminate germs and product build-up.
• Kitchen Cutting Board: Use a different board for meat and vegetables/fruits to avoid cross-contamination. Wash the boards in the dishwasher every day after use or spray the board with disinfectant, scrub it, and then rinse it with boiling water. If your cutting board is porous, replace it often.
• Kitchen Sponges/Cloths: Using paper towel is best. However, if you prefer a sponge, a University of Florida study discovered that placing a wet sponge in the microwave for two minutes eliminates 99% of germs. You can also soak a sponge in disinfectant for a few minutes and then rinse it in boiling water.
Use different kitchen cloths for different purposes, one to wipe the counters, another to wash dishes, etc. You can wash the cloths in the dishwasher.
• General Disinfecting and Cleaning: Disinfect areas where fecal matter is usually found–kitchen counters, bathroom sink, bathroom counters, kitchen sink, and kitchen and bathroom floors–a few times a week. Simply spray these areas with disinfectant and follow the cleaning instructions. Thoroughly clean the bathroom/s, kitchen, etc. once a week.
Conclusion: Don't allow germs to best you! Clean and disinfect regularly to protect yourself and others!