Holiday Germ Warfare

Sometimes the news about germs is almost too gross to talk about. But since staying well around the holidays is my goal—and that requires some smart germ warfare—here goes:

Over at they’ve been talking about the 8 Germiest Places in the Mall. I am definitely going to pack my family-size hand-sanitizer with me the next time I visit the food court. And you’re going to have to go find out for yourself what’s going on inside of toy stores and those public restrooms. Ewww!

Dr. Oz has also shared some yucky facts. He says that scientists have found:

  • Drool from three different people on an airplane cushion
  • Germs usually found in feces in the back of a taxi cab
  • Dangerous E. coli bacteria, most likely from fecal matter, on a pair of public headphones

If I were squeamish, this report would have sent me screaming into my home, never to venture out again without full-body armor. But not to worry. As disgusting as all that stuff sounds, it probably won’t make you sick. If the secretions (even that word makes me cringe!) are dry, they’ve lost their ability to hurt you, Dr. Oz says.

So what should I avoid? Those coughing people on the subway/plane/restaurant/you fill in the blank. “The most dangerous thing we get exposed to is spit,” Dr. Oz says. That’s how the flu gets transmitted, especially during the winter when we’re sitting inside confined spaces getting coughed on. How to avoid getting sick from those wet spit-born germs?

  • Get a flu shot.
  • Wash your hands. It’s the secret to preventing infection, says Dr. Michael Roizen. “But you can’t just hastily wash,” he says, “you need to make sure you use proper hand-washing techniques to get those germs off your mitts.”
  • The Cleveland Clinic reminds us to avoid touching our eyes and nose (good entry points for germs) when we’re out and about or around wet coughers.
Take our Hot Spots for Germs quiz for more hidden areas where germs could be hiding.

Excuse me while I go wash my mitts!

Additional Research by Taylor Dahl

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File under: Healthy Holidays


Anne Krueger

A print editor turned digital junkie, Anne launched during her tenure as Editor-in-Chief of Parenting magazine and blogged at while Executive Editor at Health magazine. She launched and has worked at and

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