I’ve never been much of a germaphobe. I don’t carry Purell with me. I don’t wash my hands obsessively. And I don’t walk around with a mask on. But then I come across a story like this one on the BBC News website and I start to question whether I should live in a bubble. A recent recent study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (is there a better location for the study of tropical medicine?) has discovered that more than one in four commuters in the UK has bacteria associated with fecal matter on their hands.
Dr. Val Curtis, director of the Hygiene Center at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said, “If any of these people had been suffering from a diarrhoeal disease, the potential for it to be passed around would be greatly increased by their failure to wash their hands after going to the toilet.” That, quite frankly, is more than I need from my daily commute. I’m just looking to get from Point A to Point B. Point D(iarrhea) is not part of my plan.
I ride the New York City subways to work everyday and I will admit that I avoid holding onto the bars/poles in the trains as much as possible. If I have to hold on, I typically wrap my arm around the pole so as to keep my hands clean. But sometimes you just have to grab on. However, I’m fairly certain that I don’t have fecal matter all over my hands. Because I wash them after I use the toilet. It’s everyone else who is apparently wiping their asses barehanded and then touching everything.
So, as we approach cold and flu season, perhaps it’s time to remind ourselves to wash our hands often. And use toilet paper instead of just our hands. It’s a great big world out there but it’s the tiny bacteria that will kill you. Or at least ravage your GI tract. Be sure to wave at me when I pass by in my bubble.