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Article posted: 2/24/2014 5:45 AM

Your health: Exposing the top germiest public places

Office desks harbor hundreds of times more bacteria per square inch than do the toilet seats in those same buildings, according to University of Arizona research. Be sure to wipe down your keyboard.

Office desks harbor hundreds of times more bacteria per square inch than do the toilet seats in those same buildings, according to University of Arizona research. Be sure to wipe down your keyboard.

 

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The top germiest public places

Holy ship! Earlier this month, not one, but two cruise ships cut their trips short due to illness outbreaks onboard.

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It's not entirely a shock, Men's Health reports. Cruise ships are floating petri dishes and it takes very few particles of the norovirus, aka the stomach flu, to make you heave, said Dr. Lola Stamm, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

But if you plan on staying ashore, what are some of the germiest hot spots you encounter in your daily life?

Here are common culprits and what you can do to avoid sickness.

Germ hot spot: Work

Culprit No. 1 -- Your desk: Office desks harbor hundreds of times more bacteria per square inch than do the toilet seats in those same buildings, according to University of Arizona research. Wipe down your phone, keyboard, monitor, and desk with disinfectant wipes at least once a day, Stamm says. And avoid eating in front of your computer -- food particles contribute to germs.

Culprit No. 2 -- The break room's refrigerator door: Even more disgusting than your co-worker's stinky lunch are the germs hanging out on the refrigerator door. In a study by the American Dietetic Association, 44 percent of office refrigerators are cleaned on a monthly basis -- 22 percent are cleaned just once a year.

Hot spot: Restrooms

Culprit No. 1 -- Sinks: Your worst fears have been confirmed: A University of Colorado study identified 19 groups of bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus -- the bug linked with antibiotic-resistant infections -- in public restrooms.

The sink may be the most germ-ridden surface of them all, according to a study by the nonprofit NSF International, since the dampness allows microorganisms to survive.

Culprit No. 2 -- Hand dryers: Rubbing your hands under a traditional dryer can boost the number of bacteria on your skin by up to 45 percent, a study in the Journal of Applied Microbiology found.

Use paper towels to dry -- and to open the door as you leave.

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