10 Common Places Where You Can Catch The Flu

By:    Published: February 21, 2014

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There are common areas and objects you come across every single day that can be harboring harmful germs and bacteria that will make you sick. The flu, or influenza, is typically spread after a person with the virus sneezes, coughs or even speaks, passing particles from inside his or her body into the air. When these particles land on a surface, it becomes contaminated and can make other people sick. For this year's flu season, avoid these 10 common places that are most likely contaminated:

1. Office

The office is one of the biggest culprits for having dangerous and harmful bacteria that can make you ill. But do you know which objects in particular are the most dangerous? Here's a list that might help:

  • Keyboards: People infected by the flu are likely to spread their disease laden moisture droplets all over their keyboards as they type away. Think about it, while typing on your keyboard, in the privacy of your cubicle or office, you're less likely to cover your mouth while sneezing or coughing.
  • Mouse: If the keyboard is covered in germs, so is your mouse.
  • Telephone: It's handheld, and can catch your saliva when you talk.

Reports have indicated that a person's desk can have just as many germs as a bathroom toilet seat, which is why it is #1 on this list of 10.

2. School

If the office is the most likely place to catch the flu, schools would have to be a close second. Poor hygiene and unhealthy habits are the biggest culprits for making schools so prominent for spreading the flu. Gathering groups of people in such close proximity can also be attributed to how fast the flu can spread within a classroom. Preventative measures include informing children to always cover their mouths, proper washing of the hands, use of hand sanitizers, and properly wiping down desks, tables, chairs and other surfaces within the classroom.

3. Public Transportation Hubs

Subways, airports, bus stations and train stations are hotbeds for germs and flu causing bacteria. People traveling from all over the country, and even the rest of the world, are just transporting their germs from one area to the next. Things to watch out for are door handles, luggage carts, chairs and arm rests, counters, and even the small plastic bins used by everyone at the airport security check point.

4. Home (Primarily the Kitchen)

When someone is infected with the flu, they are told to stay home to prevent the spread of the virus. But what does that mean for the other people living there? Confine the sick person to one room, and make sure to clean any surfaces that are possibly contaminated. The kitchen can be one of the worst places in the home, because it typically has the most traffic and can potentially contain the dirtiest items in the home, like the kitchen sponge.

5. The Mall

One of the worst things about flu season is it tends to coincide with the holiday season. This means transportation hubs and shopping malls become even more dangerous when dealing with the flu. Fortunately, malls have started including hand sanitizer dispensers throughout their facilities. Don't hesitate to use them, especially when visiting the food court.

6. Public Restrooms

If you are trying to avoid the flu virus in a public restroom, here is a quick tip: the toilet is not your biggest concern. Air dryer buttons, hand towel levers, faucet handles and door handles, in particular, are the biggest culprits for carrying flu moisture droplets in a public restroom. It is important to always wash your hands thoroughly or use hand sanitizers to avoid the flu, but touching a dirty surface negates such precautionary measures. During the flu season, make sure to use a paper towel on the bathroom door handle.

7. Drinking Fountains

You might want to avoid using any public drinking fountains during this year's flu season. Drinking from a public fountain can be one of the quickest ways to transfer flu moisture droplets from one mouth to another.

8. Elevators and Escalators

Elevators and escalators can be some of the worst places as far as having surfaces with flu causing bacteria. Most elevators and escalators are rarely washed or maintained, so there's no telling how clean those elevator buttons or escalator hand rails are. And, you probably touch these things every time you ride an elevator or escalator.

9. Grocery

Food, produce, money, shopping carts and shopping baskets - there are numerous surfaces and items that make a grocery store one of the easiest places to catch the flu. While you don't have to go to the extent of using rubber gloves and wearing a protective mask when heading out for some eggs and milk, it wouldn't hurt to have some hand sanitizer handy, and to do a thorough job of washing any produce that might have been touched by someone with the flu.

10. Hand Shakes

While this last one isn't exactly a place, it deserved a special spot on this list of common areas where you can catch the flu. Handshakes are one of the most common causes for the spread of the flu virus during flu season, mainly because one doesn't think to wash his or her hands after making direct, hand-to-hand contact with another person. While it would be nice to assume that everyone you come across isn't a potential flu carrier, and every handshake is harmless - don't. Remember, the hand is what's commonly used to cover a cough or sneeze, and it is the one appendage that makes the most contact with surfaces all over the place.

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