Germs are everywhere, but you don't have to get sick - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Germs are everywhere, but you don't have to get sick

(KFVS) -

We all know how easy it is to get sick this time of year.

It is easy to spot, and try and avoid, someone who is sneezing and coughing.

But just how germy are the things we touch every day?

We asked Three Rivers College medical laboratory technology director Dionne Thompson to swab items you might come in contact with every day to see what kind of bacteria they held.

Thompson and her students sampled buttons on an ATM machine, buttons on a snack vending machine, a tablet screen, a public bathroom door handle and the buttons on a gas pump.

As expected, each of the items held some trace of bacteria.

“It's just waiting for a host to come along and touch it,” Thompson said.

Here's what we found.

Results:

  • Bathroom door: Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, and Proteus mirabilis
  • Gas pump: Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, and Enterococcus
  • ATM machine: Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis
  • Vending machine: Staphylococcus epidermidis and a gram positive bacillus a contaminant
  • Tablet screen: Staphylococcus epidermidis

Reference:

Staphylococcus aureus

  • How it spreads: contact with pus from an infected wound, skin-to-skin contact with an infected person, and contact with objects used by an infected person
  • What it leads to: common cause of skin infections, respiratory disease, food poisoning, and septicemia

Staphylococcus epidermidis

  • How it spreads: contact with skin (normal skin flora)
  • What it leads to: common cause of infection especially for people with medical implants (i.e. catheters and medical prostheses)

Proteus mirabilis

  • How it spreads: contact with urine, feces, blood (normal intestinal flora)
  • What it leads to: can cause wound infections, urinary tract infections, and septicemia

Enterococcus

  • How it spreads: contact with urine, feces, blood (normal intestinal flora)
  • What it leads to: can cause urinary tract infections, bacteremia, bacterial endocarditis, diverticulitis, and meningitis

“Our bodies are trained to deal with a certain amount of bacterial numbers,“ Thompson said.

Meaning just because the germs are there doesn't mean you have to get sick.

Officials with the Cape Girardeau County Public Health say it all comes down to preventive measures.

“Washing hands is the number one defense for stopping the spread of germs,” said CGCP assistant director Jennifer Volkerding.

“Eat well, plenty of fluids, watch your diet, exercise, all those things you would normally do to stay healthy also help you immune system to stay healthy and you can fight off disease,” Volkerding said.

In world where it is hard to go a day without touching a screen or buttons to get what you want, remembering you are pushing more than just glass and plastic can help you stay safe.

Copyright 2014 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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