The CDC recommends that everyone over the age of six months gets a flu vaccine shot this year. And the 2017/2018 influenza strain is especially dangerous. In the past, seasons with this type of strain predominating have been associated with more hospitalizations and deaths in people over 65 and young kids, but this year seemingly healthy people are dying of the flu, too.
So to stay as healthy as you can, try to avoid touching these especially germy spots:
- Airplane food trays and seat pockets - Those nasty bugs can stick around for days on planes. Research from the American Society for Microbiology shows that MRSA lasted longest (168 hours) on material from a seat-back pocket and E. coli lasted longest (96 hours) on material from the armrest of planes.
- Subway turnstiles and bus ticket machines - They’re touched by so many hands and hardly ever disinfected, so it’s no wonder that a study from the UK found that commuters are six times more likely to develop an acute respiratory infection if they recently traveled by bus or train.
- Office coffee stations and water coolers - We stay away from coughing, sneezing coworkers, but then we drink from the same coffee pot right after them. Other germy things to avoid in the office: doorknobs and other people’s keyboards.
- Liquid soap in washrooms - Research shows one in four soap dispensers in public restrooms are contaminated with bacteria - including fecal matter.
- Aisle seats in planes, trains and theaters - More people touch those seats while trying to find their own, so you’re more likely to be exposed to something if you sit there.
- Salt and pepper shakers - They’re rarely cleaned in restaurants and when’s the last time you gave yours at home a wipe down with a Lysol wipe?
- Exercise equipment at the gym - Bacteria love moisture and they love sweat even more. In one study, rhinoviruses - the most common virus to cause the common cold - were found still clinging to exercise equipment, even after cleaning. So get your hand sanitizer ready, you’re gonna need it.