In anticipation of Global Handwashing Day tomorrow, researchers reveal yet another reason to wash properly -- especially if you're in the U.K.
PROBLEM: Fecal bacteria can survive on hands and surfaces for hours, and every year 3.5 million children succumb to pneumonia and diarrheal diseases as a result. If the movie Contagion taught us anything, it's that disease-carrying substances transfer easily and that we put them in contact with our faces way too many times.
METHODOLOGY: Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Queen Mary, University of London traveled to 12 cities in the U.K. and took 390 samples from mobile phones and hands. They analyzed each of the specimens in a lab to discover the type and number of germs lurking there. They also asked respondents about their handwashing habits.
RESULTS: Although 95 percent of participants said they washed their hands with soap, 92 percent of phones and 82 percent of hands had bacteria on them. Even worse, 16 percent of hands and 16 percent of phones carried traces of E. coli, a bacteria of fecal origin that's associated with stomach upsets and serious cases of food poisoning.