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Infection Control

Malls offer a wealth of germs

November 28, 2011
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WASHINGTON — While you’re busy checking things off your Christmas shopping list, be aware of what else you might be picking up, according to CNN Health.

During the craziness that is the holiday shopping season, most shoppers might not be aware that they are possibly being exposed to harmful bacteria like flu viruses, Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Staphylococcus aureus (staph), the article stated.

"Anywhere people gather is filled with bacteria and viruses, and a crowded shopping mall is a perfect example," said Philip Tierno, Ph.D., director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University (NYU) Langone Medical Center.

According to the article, a panel of experts was asked to rank the worst germ hot spots at your local shopping center and to offer tips on how to avoid picking up anything that’s not on your list.

• Restroom sinks: Bacteria, including E. coli, fester on the faucet and handles because people touch those surfaces right after using the toilet
• Food court tables: Even if you see the table being wiped down, that doesn''t mean it''s clean because the rags themselves can actually spread harmful bacteria such as E. coli if they are not changed and washed regularly.
• Escalator handles: "In our testing, we have found food, E. coli, urine, mucus, feces and blood on escalator handrails," said Charles Gerba, Ph.D. "And, where there is mucus, you may also find cold and flu viruses."
• Toy stores: Kids lick toys, roll them on their heads and rub them on their faces, and all that leaves a plethora of germs on the toys.

For a complete list of offending places and tips on how to avoid germs, click here.

Click here to read the complete article.

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