It seems the main ways of acquiring a transmissible illness is by either someone coughing into the air you are about the breathe, or by touching a contaminated surface with your hand and then your hand touches your mouth.
Because people generally wouldn’t touch their mouth with a glove, wearing one out in public might be a good precautionary measure, especially now that antibiotics are looking like they are no longer the miracle cure.
However it is not that easy. It is awkward to handle phones, keys, coins etc with gloves. The thinnest gloves are latex and not suited to being out and about in public. In fact, they could scare folk away. And most fashionable gloves are too cumbersome.
I have found these and will give them a go:
Ansell HyFlex 11-618
Not fashionable, but not creepy either. This isn’t my first choice, but at $80 AUD for a pack of 12, perhaps worth a go.
The multipurpose glove has a palm of coated nylon/polyurethane and an elasticised knitwrist. It is 20% lighter in weight than the manufacturer’s other equivalent products, but provides light mechanical protection.
My first choice is the Tough Gloves Ultra™ Thin Patrol Cabretta – the same product that police use, the same that TV character Dexter uses. $48 in the USA. They suggest you get the fit right, and tight.
Note: the results are from one study at one hospital. The time of year could also be a factor…
The shocking news is that “Elevator buttons had higher colonization rates than toilet surfaces in the same buildings”.
When other studies are compared, it seems even worse are computer keyboards and ultrasound transducers – however the typical visitor is far less likely to touch those items. Almost everyone uses the elevator.
Although the prevalence of colonization of elevator buttons in our study was lower than that for computer keyboards and ultrasound transducers in previous studies, patients remain at potential risk of cross-contamination because of the frequent use of these buttons by diverse individuals. In addition, a visitor is more likely to come into contact with an elevator button or a toilet than with inanimate hospital equipment and may transmit organisms if interacting with inpatients.
Consequently the researchers have suggested a few solutions:
- alcohol-based hand sanitizers available near elevators
- enlarge the elevator buttons so people can push them with their elbows
- make the elevator experience touchless using voice controls or motion sensors
One more option is available to everyone, everywhere. Wear gloves.
Presence of bacteria on a surface doesn’t prove that it is a cause of infection, but better to be clean than sorry.
One of the instruments was found to be more contaminated with bacteria than the palm of a doctor’s hand after being used to examine 71 patients.
Among the microbes spreading from patients was the potentially deadly superbug MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).
“From infection control and patient safety perspectives, the stethoscope should be regarded as an extension of the physician’s hands and be disinfected after every patient contact.”
A different study found that nozzle triggers at gas stations were another place where you can find a lot of bacteria.
You can catch a superbug from anywhere, but anything in the public sphere that gets touched by a large variety of people will be top of the list – and now it is time to worry about fuel pumps at gas stations:
The nozzles we use to fill up the tank have joined the range of everyday items that are seen as dangerous breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses.
Levels on nozzle handles are worse than escalator rails, parking meters, pedestrian buttons on traffic signals and handles on mailboxes, a US study by Kimberly-Clark Professional found.
There’s nothing particular about gas / petrol pump nozzles that means bacteria will thrive, but rather the amount of time in the day that they are in contact with the hands of various people. Personally, I don’t see why the length of time you hold something would mean you are more likely to transmit bacteria… but the numbers say it is true.
One solution is to constantly wash your hands. A better solution is to wear gloves. The very best option is to not put your fingers in your mouth.