What's on your cell phones may make you sick

It's that time of year...we're seeing folks coming down with all kinds of illnesses, from the common cold to pneumonia.

Those types of sicknesses can spread quickly to others. We talked with Keith Griffeth, an infection preventionist with Hannibal Regional Hospital.

He has this advice for staying healthy.

Griffeth said, "We can certainly carry organisms/we transmit them to things we touch. This time of the year is especially bad because people have flu-like symptoms, coughs and colds and we are transmitting them into the air and on touched surfaces.Viruses spread through droplets in the air or contact. So if anyone breathes, coughs, or sneezes on a surface, the people who touch it come into contact with those surfaces and pick up that virus."

Surfaces we touch frequently can become breeding grounds for viruses and bacteria that cause illnesses, such as light switches, phones and doorknobs.

KHQA's Melissa Shriver wanted to find out what's lurking on common household appliances that could make your family sick.

With the help of Infection Preventionist Keith Griffeth with Hannibal Regional Hospital, Melissa tested two common items - a remote control from our KHQA-TV newsroom and my cell phone to see what could make me or anyone else who touches them sick.

Griffith put swabs of both items into lab dishes and left whatever germs we collected to grow.

Two days later, Melissa returned to Hannibal Regional to get a look. The bacteria off of the newsroom remote control grew into moldy-looking spheres.

Griffeth sid, "There's several types of fungus, mold and several common skin contaminants."

Remember my cell phone? Even more bacteria grew off of the swab from my cell phone. Experts here at the Hannibal Regional Hospital Lab says bacteria on my cell phone isn't dangerous, but just imagine what bad bacteria would look like.

One important thing to remember, in this experiment we only tested for bacteria - not viruses. Since viruses cause more illnesses than bacteria, it doesn't take long to reach an unsettling conclusion.

Do you think there are viruses on my cell phone?

Griffith said, 'There's always that possibility because viruses are everywhere."

To keep disease from spreading, Griffeth suggests using anti-microbial cleaners or wipes on frequently-handled items at least once a week. But the best way to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses is simple and effective - wash your hands.

We also asked Griffeth where the germiest place is in the home. He says the kitchen sink contains the most bacteria and virus possibilities. That's because it's the place where raw foods are prepared.