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Written by By Dr. Ajay Hotchandani   
Thursday, 21 August 2014 00:00

Back to Basics – Germ Communication Warfare

I fear more that which I cannot see than an enemy who is within my sights.  If you are eating something and a piece fell on the ground or table, some people may try to quickly salvage and it eat, claiming “fresh drop” or “5 second rule”, indicating there has been limited exposure to germs so it’s suitable to consume.  Now what if I were to ask you this question, what if the piece of food fell on a toilet seat would you still consider eating it?”  NO! Would be your immediate response, because that is just nasty. 

What if there was something dirtier than a toilet seat, if your hands came in contact with it, would you wash your hands before eating?  YES! Would be your immediate response (I hope).  Now what if I told you that most cell phones have more germs on them than a toilet seat?

An article published in a medical microbiology journal studied staff phones and found that 94.5% were contaminated with some kind of bacteria.  University of London’s study found that 80% of cell phones had 18 times more harmful bacteria than what was found on the handle of a public restroom.   Dr. Cain of the AAFP states, “Some things we think are personal are actually more public than we imagine.  Bacteria and other infectious agents on a phone can cause flu, pinkeye or diarrhea.” 

The cycle starts with your hand coming in contact with something as simple as money or a surface such as a pubic door handle.  You touch that surface and then use your phone, thereby transferring it to your phone.  Later on you wash your hands, is that enough?  Not really, although your hands are clean you touch your cell phone which has the bacteria that will now pass it back to your hands.   It is virtually impossible to keep a completely sanitary environment; however there are things you can do to help reduce the chances of picking up an infection via this route.

1. Wipe the surface of your cell phone with a disinfectant solution of sorts.  I personally apply a couple of drops of rubbing alcohol to a piece of soft gauze and gently wipe my screen, the back of my phone and my phone case cover.  There is no use cleaning the phone and not the case, which may have dirt on it.   Use caution when cleaning your phone, because neither I nor the newspaper will be responsible if you damage your phone.  Test out with few drops of water on a soft piece of gauze or material to see if it causes any damages.

2. Avoid using your phone while in the bathroom.  It’s very tempting to play Candy Crush while sitting on the toilet taking care of business.  Also, avoid using your phone while eating.  Imagine you just washed your hands, sit down to eat and touch your phone before picking up a garnaches or tortilla, you pretty much picked up any germs that were on your phone.

3. If your kids use your phone (or tablet), wipe down the surface more often to avoid cross contamination and allow them to use it only after they have washed their hands.

There are some commercially available cleaners, but in the end please use a cleaning agent that is suitable for your phone. 

Questions or Comments can be addressed to Dr. Ajay Hotchandani on Facebook.