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Computer Keyboards Dirtier Than Toilets, Effect Hygiene

Armen Hareyan's picture

A new study has found that most of computer keyboards are dirtier than toilets making them riskier for personal hygiene reasons. Keyboards are homes for harmful bacteria and an easy way for bacteria transmission from one person to another.

Microbiologist James Francis from Kingmoor Technological Services in Carlisle, England examined swab from 33 computers, a toilet seat and a toilet door handle all from the same UK office. When swabs were tested for germs, the researcher found that 4 of them contain a seriously hazardous level of bacteria, while 1 keyboard swab contained 5 times more germs than the toilet seat did.

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A survey of 4000 people conducted in January and February 2008 found that only the half of surveyed computer users clean their keyboards at least once a month. This means, that not everyone really understands the necessity of cleaning personal use devices, such as a keyboard, and the level of health risk it can pose.

There have been previously reported cases of people infected from different thing we use daily, such as money, door knobs. Even keyboards were a reason of serious infection outbreak at a school in Washington D.C. in February 2007. 100 first-grade children were infected with a so-called stomach flu virus, and the means of transmission was proved to be computer equipment.

The researcher, however, did not indicate how serious the health risk is when people use dirty keyboards. James Francis mentioned that germs and bacteria are not really dangerous unless they interfere with skin only. Skin protects vulnerable tissues from infections this is why a dirty keyboard can't harm much. But as soon as bacteria gets to other tissues from broken parts of skin or though mouth, it can cause serious infections and diseases.

The research doesn't necessarily mean that everyone must stay away from computer, but it reminds everyone that cleaning computer and other frequently used office equipment is an important part of personal hygiene.