This Is Where You’re Most Likely to Catch a Cold or the Flu from This Is Where You’re Most Likely to Catch a Cold or the Flu
This Is Where You’re Most Likely to Catch a Cold or the Flu
It’s not winter yet but that doesn’t mean the flu isn’t around. It’s easy to be misled about influenza or the cold (or the difference between them) with so many “wisdom gems” out there. There is a good chance some of the information you have heard may be wrong.
Where do we even begin…overcrowded shuttles, cramped seats, huge lines of people standing in one place, security checks where many (potentially infected) people touch your luggage. It’s a good idea to carry wet wipes with you to either clean your hands or the surfaces you’re about to touch, or both.
When a person sneezes or coughs, everyone within 6 feet of him or her is at immediate risk of getting infected. The air is recirculated in close quarters. Droplets can land on the mouth or nose of passengers sitting nearby, after which they are inhaled into the lungs. You can also become sick if you touch a surface an infected person touched and then touch your nose and mouth.
Schools, kindergartens, indoor playgrounds, daycare centers… If there is one sick child around, more will be coming down with the cold or the flu soon. Children are gathered in close proximity, usually in a closed classroom, and practicing healthy habits is probably not higher on their list of things to do than playing.
Living in the tight quarters of a dormitory significantly increases the risk of catching at least a cold. It is the most frequent illness that students catch after they move into dorms, followed by strep throat, the flu, mononucleosis and meningitis, according to experts. Also, the extra stress the body experiences related to college life and moving into dorms increase one’s susceptibility to colds.
The worst offender is your computer. People who have the virus are likely to spread loaded moisture droplets all over the keyboards. The same applies for the mouse. A British research concluded that the computer mice and keyboards are, in fact, full of germs. The average computer mouse is three times dirtier than a toilet seat.
Escalators, more specifically the hand rails, are a bad place to touch because it rarely gets cleaned or washed. Do you touch them even if you don’t need help maintaining your balance? Elevators are not a much better option. It’s a small, closed box with no windows. The droplets with the flu virus have nowhere to go when someone sneezes in an elevator.
What are the chances you’re going to meet a healthy person at the doctor’s office in the winter? A waiting room is likely full of people sneezing and coughing. Then you finally see the doctors – away from the infected patients – only to be touching the same surfaces such as chair and doorknob they touched before you.
How many people do you think use a single ATM machine in half an hour near a popular location? What are the chances that at least one of the few dozen touching the buttons is sick and freely spreading the virus without realizing it? It can be passed for days even after someone no longer exhibits symptoms. The flu, for example, can live up to two days on an inanimate object.
You are in a crowded, small place that doesn’t get cleaned very often. When someone sneezes or coughs, it’ll be only a matter of time before the germs get to you. They may land somewhere on your seat, which you’ll inevitably touch with bare hands. After all, why would you wear gloves inside?
If only Thanksgiving and Christmas were not during the flu season… People, sick or not, are going to buy gifts for friends and relatives. The one place you can find everything is the mall or department store. Suddenly, they are overcrowded contagion zones and you feel like you’re walking on Times Square. Use the hand sanitizer dispensers, especially when you’re in the food court.
Your own kitchen
People are told to stay home when they are sick, and rightfully so. However, they won’t stay in their rooms all day. The kitchen is easily one of the dirtiest places in a home because it gets the most traffic. When you touch the cabinets, the fridge, the sink, or the remote control, do you clean them afterwards? If not, the germs are still there.
Buses and trains
How many times have you seen subways, buses and train stations being cleaned, really cleaned though? Germs and flu causing bacteria thrive there. Try not to touch with bare hands door handles, luggage carts, chairs, seats, and poles.
More than half of people who own smartphones check them several times an hour, according to a survey. Most Americans have a smartphone by them all day, many all night. This means that all of the bacteria on you or other people’s hands – from whatever they touched – are transferred on your phone, waiting for you.
Don’t touch the menus and condiment dispensers! When do you think was the last time they were washed, especially with bleach? If an infected person was using them before you, this significantly increases the chance of the cold-causing bacteria to be now in your fries. Cold and flu viruses can survive for about 24 – 48 hours on hard surfaces.