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Wash your hands after using the phone - but don't touch the taps.

INFECTIOUS illnesses can be spread simply by picking up a telephone or turning on a kitchen tap, it was disclosed yesterday.

US researchers investigated the degree to which bacteria and viruses can be transferred from common articles in the home to the hands.

The study focused on Serratia rubidea, a bacterium similar to E Coli.

It also looked at a bacterial virus called PRD-1, which is similar to human viruses that cause diarrhoea.

The worst offender was found to be telephone receivers which passed on 39 per cent of the bacteria and 66 per cent of the viruses.

Tap handles were also a source of infection at 28 per cent and 34 per cent.

Further studies showed that 34 per cent of the Serratia rubidea could be transferred from a contaminated fingertip to the lower lip.

The University of Arizona researchers concluded that even a tiny amount of stool contamination could result in more than 107,000 salmonella bacteria being passed from a telephone receiver to a person's hand.

Placing a fingertip in the mouth would transmit an estimated 36,383 salmonella cells - more than enough to result in illness.

Previous studies by the same team - Dr Patricia Rusin, Dr Charles Gerba and Sheri Maxwell - showed that the common house- hold sponge may contain 320million disease-causing germs.
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 23, 2000
Words:217
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