Boost Your Immune System: How Germ Experts Stay Healthy

GermsThey're less paranoid than you might expect, but what they worry about (airplanes, laundry!) will surprise you.


71% Don't Clean Hands After Touching Public Surfaces I'm [just] careful to wash my hands before eating. I didn't get a respiratory infection because I touched a door handle after a sick person touched it; I got it because I then touched my hand to my eye or nose.
-Michael Pentella, PhD, clinical associate professor, University of Iowa College of Public Health
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29% Carry Hand Sanitizer I prefer soap and water. If that's not available, I'll use sanitizer-but I'm not religious about carrying it. -Rima Khabbaz, MD, director for infectious diseases at the CDC

86% Don't Disinfect Shopping Carts You'll find germs on shopping cart handles, but you'll also find them on meat and other food as well. After I leave the grocery store, I use an alcoholic wipe or gel on my hands. Then I wash them after I unload the groceries at home. -Philip Tierno, PhD, clinical professor of micro-biology and pathology, Langone Medical Center, NYU
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50% Have Special Laundry Hygiene Habits I do an underwear load last because an average pair contains about a hundred thousand fecal bacteria, and I don't want that transferring to other loads. About once a week, I put a half cup or a cup of bleach into the empty machine and run it with only water to kill any germs. -Charles Gerba, PhD

86% Protect Themselves on Planes

I never use water from the plane restroom's sink because those water tanks form biofilms, which are replete with germs. So I use an alcoholic gel or towelette (I do this before eating too). I don't use headrest covers or blankets that aren't sealed. -Philip Tierno, PhD

67% Steer Clear of Sick People I stay at least three feet away. Most germs are spread by droplets; talking and sneezing produce droplets that fall within a six-foot range. -Michael Pentella, PhD

86% Sneeze into Their Elbow Don't sneeze into your hands and then touch somebody; that transfers those viral particles. Even worse is when I see people just sneeze right out into the air-the spray can hit dozens of people. -Philip Tierno, PhD-By Kimberly Hiss from Reader's Digest Magazine | November 2012

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