Bugs, whether cutting-board bacteria or ultra-virulent viruses, are everyone’s ultimate invisible enemy. The best way to stay safe in a world full of crawling germs is to know which ones are worth worrying about. If you have a cell phone or travel by public transport , here are some high-priority pathogens we'd like you to know, so that you can defeat them.
The cell phone
What's lurking: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
Let’s, first know about MRSA. It is resistant to most antibiotics and can be fatal if it enters your bloodstream. You will be surprised to know that even though MRSA usually hides in hospitals, at least 12 percent of the infections in 2005 occurred in the general community, often inside locker rooms. In addition, University of Arizona researchers tested 25 cell phones, out of which 20 percent came positive for MRSA. No surprise, every time you dial a number or send a text message, you're transferring the germs on your hands to your phone and then straight to your mouth.
How to beat it: The easiest thing you can do is to sanitize your cell once a week with disinfecting wipes. The wipes won't get into the internal parts of the phone and damage it the way a spray might.
What's lurking: Methylobacter and Sphingomonas
You may be wondering how did showering make to this list? Well, germs thrive in warm, wet environments, which is why you are more likely to get infected while shower. When experts tested five plastic shower curtains, they found millions of microbes lining every square inch, with 80 percent being either Methylobacter or Sphingomonas.
How to beat them: Pull the curtain all the way shut after you're finished to prevent bacteria from thriving inside the plastic folds. Also, you can opt for a fabric shower curtain and an all-metal showerhead. If you go with a cloth curtain, toss it in the washing machine once a month, using the hottest water the fabric can handle.
What's lurking: Clostridium difficile
Also known as C. diff, these bacteria are responsible for causing diarrhoea in hospitals for decades. Ironically, the bug remains dormant inside healthy people until they begin taking certain antibiotics, which eliminate beneficial bacteria that keep C. diff in check.
How to beat it: If you're going to be laid up in the hospital for more than a day, make sure your menu includes yogurt that contains "live" or "active" cultures. You'll be ingesting L. acidophilus, one of those good bacteria that can beat C. diff but is killed off by antibiotics.
What's lurking: Norovirus
What most travellers don't realize, however, is that this norovirus can even hijack airplanes. A recent CDC study of a flight from London to Philadelphia shows that 9 percent of the passengers and more than half of the crew were stricken with diarrhoea and/or vomiting within 18 to 60 hours of the flight. When we look at how contagious a disease is, we calculate how many microorganisms of that species are required—from less than one to 100,000—to produce an infection. Norovirus has a dose of 0.6, which means a single bacterium can produce a very serious outbreak.
How to beat it: Because they interact with everyone on the plane—and on any other flights they've been on that day—the flight attendants are the most likely people to contract and transmit norovirus. So if they hand you a beverage, drink it with a straw. And if they serve you a prepackaged meal, sanitize your hands after opening it.
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