What are the germiest public places?

On average, you can touch as many as 30 germy objects a minute. While coexisting with microbes is a necessary fact of life, here are the top seven places that are best left untouched.

On July 1 American health and nutrition magazine Prevention reported on the germiest public places, with some practical tips on how to steer clear of the bugs that could make you sick.

1. Restaurant menus - A new study reported that cold and flu viruses can survive for 18 hours on hard surfaces, cites Prevention. Restaurant menus get passed along to hundreds of people and are rarely washed, so wash your hands after you place your order.

2. Lemon wedges - Slice of lemon with your tea? If you're at a restaurant, go citrus-less. Researchers ordering drinks at 21 different restaurants found 25 different microorganisms lurking on lemons - including E. coli.

3. Condiment dispensers - Maybe skip the ketchup too. Or use a disinfectant wipe beforehand - although you will run the risk of looking like a germophobe. "Holding the bottle with a napkin won't help; napkins are porous, so microorganisms can pass right through," states Prevention.

4. Restroom soap dispensers - Gross-out factoid of the day: about 25 percent of public restroom dispensers are contaminated with fecal bacteria, experts say. Since most soap dispensers are never cleaned, the bacteria grow, so scrub your hands thoroughly with hot water for 15 to 20 seconds after touching the dispenser.

5. Grocery carts - In 2007, a study found that the handles of almost two-thirds of the shopping carts tested were contaminated with fecal bacteria, with bacteria counts exceeding those of your average public restroom. Your best friend is a disinfectant wipe to swab down the handle.

6. Airplane bathrooms - Your in-flight restroom trip could expose you to E. coli lurking on the surfaces of the faucets and doorknobs, according to a study. Plus, you're 100 times more likely to catch a cold on an airplane than on the ground, according to a new study. Prevention recommends self-protecting by taking green tea supplements. A 2007 study found that people who took a 450-milligram green tea supplement twice daily for three months had one-third fewer days of cold symptoms. The supplement brand used in the study was Immune Guard ($30 for 60 pills; immune-guard.us).

7. Doctor's office - Limit your exposure when visiting your physician by packing your own tissues, hand sanitizers, and magazines. When in the waiting room, try to leave some space between yourself and the others waiting to reduce the chances of catching their bugs, especially if someone is sneezing or coughing.

Read the full report: http://online.prevention.com/germs-in-public-places/index.shtml

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