germs

  1. Hundreds of germs found on paper money

    Your paper money is dirty

    Disease-causing bacteria are turning up everywhere. They're in hospitals, clinics, care facilities and more. And as I've told you before, some of these bugs are even lurking in your home.

    Now, new research finds germs turning up someplace else, on something you can't avoid no matter how hard you try: your paper money.

    DNA tests on 80 U.S. $1 bills finds more than 3,000 types of bacteria lingering on your paper money. Most of them are harmless, especially to a healthy person with a normal immune system.

    But others are not.

    The most common germ found is the one that causes acne.

    That's bad... but this gets worse, because your money could also be harboring Staphylococcus aureus and E. coli, two common germs behind food poisoning outbreaks.

    Get sick after lunch, and you might blame your meal. But as the new study shows, it could've been the money you used to pay for it (especially if you didn't wash your hands before eating).

    And that's not all that's living in your wallet. The study also finds the bacteria responsible for skin and lung infections, diphtheria and ulcers, as well as a wide range of viruses, fungi and more.

    They also found mouth germs, presumably from people who lick their fingers while counting money and even anthrax.

    Yes, anthrax.

    The researchers say they found it in very small amounts that are not believed to be dangerous. But still... anthrax?

    I'd say switch to a credit card, but the credit card receipts are loaded with BPA, a hormone-like chemical that's been linked to everything from developmental problems in children to sexual dysfunction in adults.

    So don't shy away from paper money. Just be sure to wash your hands after touching it -- especially if you're about to have lunch.

  2. Public toilets are crawling with germs

    Some studies offer surprising, even stunning conclusions.

    This isn't one of them: Public restrooms are every bit as filthy as you would have guessed... and maybe even worse.

    A microscopic look at a dozen public bathrooms on the University of Colorado's Boulder campus found 19 types of bacteria running free -- including stomach bacteria on the door handles.

    That's a sure sign of something you've probably always suspected: Plenty of people don't wash their hands when they're done... and grab those door handles with their filthy paws.

    And that means you can have the most careful habits in the world and wash up after using the toilet -- but end up with filthy, germy hands anyway when you grab the doorknob to leave.

    On the other hand, women seem at least a little cleaner than men (again, no surprise), since the researchers found more of the bacteria associated with urine on the soap dispensers.

    While that means women are going from the toilet to the sink instead of the door, it means you've got to watch out for soap dispensers as well as door handles now. And while we're at it, you can add one more to the list: toilet handles.

    People don't just flush with germy toilet hands -- they also use their feet, as researchers say the soil bacteria usually found on shoes turned up on the handles.

    That raises an interesting dilemma: Do you refuse to compound the problem by using your hand and risk picking up that dirt bacteria... or make it worse by using you own shoes?

    As bad as all that is, the public restrooms near you might be even worse -- because the campus bathrooms used in the study are cleaned regularly. I'm sure you can think of a few examples of bathrooms that get much less attention.

    I'm talking to you, I-95 rest stops.

    On the other (clean) hand, bacteria alone isn't something to panic over. It's gross to think about, but you're exposed to potentially harmful critters all the time. A healthy immune system will fight them off and you'll never even know they were there.

    And don't forget to wash your hands.

    P.S. Bathrooms aren't the only common places you'll find nasty germs. One study last year found they could be hanging out on your computer keyboard, while another study found that they could be lurking on your cellphone. Sometimes, it seems like you can't touch anything.

  3. Bacteria love your cellphone

    I'm always a little grossed out when I see someone walk out of the bathroom with a cellphone in hand -- either checking messages or already mid-conversation. The thought alone is enough to make you sick, but the latest research shows how it could make you literally ill: Cellphones are crawling with germs, including the nasty bacteria that live in poop.
  4. Surprising homes of germs

    In one study, researchers visited 30 single men and 30 single women at home and did swab tests on four surfaces: remote controls, coffee tables, nightstands and doorknobs.
  5. Buses, cash machines linked to illness

    British researchers did swab tests on ATM keypads and public toilets, and you might be surprised at which one turned up dirtier: neither.
  6. The dirtiest places in your home

    A new study of household cleanliness puts the United States right near the top of the list in most categories... but don't stop cleaning just yet, because it also finds that we still have plenty of germs crawling around our homes.

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