If your bestie wants to show you the latest photo of their puppy, keep your hands off of their mobile device. Look at the picture… but don’t touch the phone. Research shows that touchscreen devices harbor approximately 18% more germs than the handles of flush toilets in mens’ restrooms do. Simply touching your friend’s device can land you in bed for a few days with a fever, the sniffles and a nasty cough.
“If you’re sharing the device, then you’re sharing your influenza with someone else who touches it,” said Timothy Julian, a Stanford University doctoral student who co-authored a study on the spread of viruses. According to Julian’s study, the risks of transmitting pathogens from glass surfaces to a person’s skin are relatively high. “If you put virus on a surface, like an iPhone, about 30 percent of it will get on your fingertips,” Julian said. In turn, “a fair amount of it may go from your fingers to your eyes, mouth or nose,” the most likely routes of infection.
It’s impossible to measure how many people may have gotten sick due to sharing devices with others. But the devices add to the growing list of so-called fomites – frequently handled objects – that can spread pathogens such as the flu virus.
I’m thinking I don’t need to also remind you to wash your hands frequently, cover that cough or sneeze, get your flu shot and clean your device with a safe anti-bacterial wipe!