Germaphobes: Just Forget About It, Everything's Covered In Shit

The Wall Street Journal did one of those lovely stories about all the places germs lurk that we might not have even thought about. You might want to Purell yourself before reading this.

True Germaphobes (or Mysophobics, to be nerdy about it) don't need to be told that every surface is capable of harboring dreaded microbes that cause scary things like MRSA and H1N1, but since everyone else does, because clearly they doing horrible things on their hands (namely: pooping) and then running around touching everything in sight, the Wall Street Journal published a scare article yesterday to remind them to, for the last time, wash their goddamn hands! It's serious this time! Swine flu!:

"we are all routinely covered in fecal organisms," says Michael Bell, associate director for infection control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion."

See? He's mostly making the point that we shouldn't panic, because simply flushing the toilet sprays fecal bacteria everywhere and always has (yay!), but the article goes on to reinforce what People Who Always Have Clean Hands already know about elevator buttons, computer keyboards, subway poles, and the dreaded handle on the public bathroom exit door (why can't the handle always be on the outside?) And if you have a fear of both germs and escalators, you may as well just never leave your house:

"The biggest risks are in areas of high contact-like the hundreds of people who have touched that escalator rail before you did."

These articles always point out that women are the dirtiest. Nobody knows why!:

After testing surfaces and objects in 113 offices in five cities, the Arizona researchers found that women's offices had more than twice the bacteria of their male counterparts. Makeup cases, phones and purses had the highest number of bacteria; for men it was wallets, hand-held electronic devices and phones

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And I really want to know how men are getting drug-resistant flesh-eating MRSA in their office desk drawers. It seems suspicious. What exactly are they implying here?:

"But the superbug MRSA, isolated in 6% of offices, was found more often in men's offices on the phone, computer mouse, desktop and the bottom of desk drawers."

And in a final superduh, they describe every germaphobe's nightmare setting: the airplane lavatory:

"The best advice I ever heard was to treat all airplane bathroom surfaces as if they are radioactive; keep the lid closed when flushing, use a paper towel to handle lid, faucets and door handles after washing hands, then use hand sanitizer once back at the seat as an extra precaution."

Amen. America is one tiny step closer to the social acceptability of that public bathroom using-elbows-to-turn-on-the-faucet dance. Next time someone brags that his or her immune system is so strong because they just touch everything and never wash their hands, send them this article.

Where the Worst Germs Lurk [WSJ]