How dirty is your desk at work?
We took several office items from around the KHQA newsroom to the Hannibal Regional Hospital Laboratory.
It's now the peak of flu season and it spreads like wildfire. It's all about how germs and bacteria are transmitted through things you use every day. With that in mind we wanted to find out just what you are touching around your office.
From keyboards to pens and cell phones - we use them every day. But it's what you can't see that may make you sick.
Last week, Hannibal Regional Hospital Lab Analytic Supervisor Lindsay Dugan took samples of what was growing on items ranging from a mouse and keyboard, to a phone handle and coins.
After a week in the incubator, what we grew surprised even this long time lab technician.
Was it kind of shocking?
"It was to be honest," Dugan said. "We expect there to be a certain amount of bacteria in the environment because we have bacteria growing on our skin. The amount of bacteria and the types of bacteria was shocking, too."
Ok, so what did we find?
Take the computer keyboard.
"We found a lot of bacteria we would find on our skin," Dugan said. "And lots of bacteria we would find in our environment. However if these bacteria were in the right place at the right time they can cause infection."
Does this make us sick?
"Yes, it does make us sick," Dugan said. "Our bodies may fight this bacteria on their own, but it's infection all the same." Click here to watch more from KHQA This Morning.
The computer mouse possessed similar bacteria as our keyboard ... but something else that set off alarms.
"We did have a couple more staph species that were on there," Dugan said. "Staph infections can lead to boils, even food poisoning."
But if that doesn't have you reaching for your hand sanitizer this will.
The two dirtiest items you touch every day - a common dollar bill and your cell phone. Click here to watch the LIVE segment from KHQA this Morning.
"The dollar bill actually grew out with MRSA," Dugan said.
Was it a shock to find MRSA on a dollar bill?
"I really didn't think we would have that much bacteria present on a dollar bill as there was ... and then to have MRSA as well!" Dugan reacted.
MRSA is a super bug that's resistant to antibiotics.
"So to see that on a regular dollar bill, I commonly don't wash my hands after I pay at a cash register, so it was cause for concern," Dugan explained.
And then there was the cell phone.
"The big deal is what organism we found that is commonly found in fecal material," Dugan said.
"You could have gotten that organism on your phone from being in a public restroom and touching a handle," Dugan said. "Maybe you washed your hands, but someone else didn't before touching the handle. You could have gotten it from your children."
And with that in mind, it comes down to good hand hygiene and that happens at the sink.
Experts like Hannibal Regional Quality Director Keith Griffeth says every hand washing should last 15 to 20 seconds to give soap time to work. Click here to see a live hand washing demonstration from KHQA This Morning.
"We are recommend you use the method where you're putting the fingertips into the palm of your hand to get good coverage all over the hand," said Griffeth. "Sometimes the tips of your fingers get missed from traditional hand washing techniques. People also tend to forget the backs of their hands."
"Make sure you're turning the water off with your paper towel so you don't re-contaminate your hands on that faucet," Griffeth added.
Prevent the spread of infection by washing your hands before eating, drinking, applying your cosmetics and handling your contact lenses.
What is your reaction to KHQA's findings? Post your comments here or on our Facebook page here.