FORT VALLEY, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - The thought of it might make you cringe, but have you ever stopped to consider what exactly you put on your hands every day?
From shopping carts to computer keyboards, germs and bacteria are a part of our lives. We live with them every day. But what kind of germs to we touch, and can they pose a danger to our health?
With the help of Fort Valley State University's microbiology lab, we gathered samples from surfaces we touch every day. Gas pumps, grocery carts, A.T.M. keypads, and two places that seem to be the most likely place for bacteria growth; the door handle going into a restaurant, and the inside door handle of a restaurant bathroom were all randomly tested.
"For the most part, you've got growth on all of them," Microbiologist Dr. Fred McLaughlin says.
After swiping the surfaces, it was time to analyze exactly what types of germs we pick up on our hands.
"Staph...Streptococcus...E-Coli...staph infections like MRSA," McLaughlin says as he looks through his microscope.
Every surface tested had at least trace results of each of those bacteria. But the findings didn't stop there.
"Infantaigo...any type of skin infections can be associated," McLaughlin explains.
But where were the highest counts of bacteria found? You probably guessed it by now. The inside door handle of a restaurant bathroom, the handle you touch right after you wash your hands, and right before you go back to eating your food.
"The whole idea is that, everywhere you go, we're constantly making contact with these microbes, and that's why hygiene is of utmost importance."
Who Is Most At Risk?
Children and those with weakened immune systems need to pay extra attention to washing their hands and what they touch. Healthy adults typically fight off any of these infections without many problems.
How Can You Keep Yourself Protected?
Sanitize surfaces you touch. Most grocery stores offer sanitizing wipes for this reason when you walk in the door to shop. Also, wash or sanitize your hands after you walk into a restaurant, and before you sit down at your table. Wipe down your keyboard at work at home to limit the amount of growth.
Most importanly, wash your hands while you're in the bathroom, but open the door with your paper towel in your hand, and then throw it away. This keeps the germs on the paper towel, and from speading to you.