Stay Germ Free When Using Dirty Public Items

By: Leah Uko

OMAHA (KPTM) - You might be touching someone's fecal matter they left behind when you touch a cart at the grocery story. You could also be drinking someone's spit from a water fountain.

FOX 42's Leah Uko swabbed 10 commonly used items the public touches throughout the day to see how many bacteria hands are exposed to.

The germ swabs were taken to the Pathology and Microbiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center where Dr. Peter Iwen tested for the results.

Iwen placed the 10 results in order from cleanest to dirtiest. The escalator, ATM buttons, buttons on the Douglas County Courthouse elevator, Uko's cell phone and purse were all fairly clean.

The dirtiest items were in the order of pumps at the gas station, dumbbells at the gym, carts at the grocery store, water fountain and the dirtiest item was the mat at local gyms.

Iwen said the take away was not for people to become germaphobic, but aware. He said to keep your hands away from your eyes and out your mouth to avoid spreading a staff infection.

"It can range from being a mild skin type of infection. It could have cracks on the skin develop abscesses or what have you. All the way up to causing blood stream infections. So it's a really major problem."

Also, Iwen said to wash your hands for 15 to 20 seconds with warm water throughout the day and dry them thoroughly.