The Secret Spots Where Germs Lurk

germs, remote controlOnce we get a cold--and then get over it--it's gone, right?

Wrong. Very Wrong. Those of us with multiple kids see it happen all the time. During the holiday break, the common cold picked off my family members one by one. I got it first right before Christmas, then the 3-year-old, then the baby, then the other 3-year-old. By New Year's, my husband had a runny nose, sore throat, achiness and itchy eyes.

A new study confirms what we already suspect: That cold viruses linger in our homes long after we start feeling better. Here's more on the secret spots where germs lurk.


Scientists at the University of Virginia tested surfaces in the homes of people with colds.The following common areas came up positive for cold viruses: refrigerator doors, handles, doorknobs, light switches, remote controls and bathroom faucets. Germs lived in these household hot spots for up to 48 hours.

More alarming findings: Another group of scientists tested those toys at the pediatrician's office. Up to 30 percent of the toys had cold and flu viruses on them. Hmmm, I'll rethink letting my kids play with that cool kitchen set at our doctor's office.

What are the best ways to prevent spreading germs? Here are some tips, according to a story on

  • Clean surfaces. Try using soap and water or cleaning wipes or even baby wipes.
  • Wash hands frequently.
  • Use hand sanitizers if you like them. See my story weighing the pros and cons of hand sanitizers.
  • Wear surgical masks. Seriously. People who wore them reported 10 to 50 percent fewer colds. But can you imagine the neighbor knocking on your door to find you, your significant other and your babies wearing doctor's masks? I can't.

Ewww. I am thinking of other common surfaces in my house, like the Wii controls and the computer mouse and the new wooden Thomas the Train set the kids are crazy about. I guess I need to start cleaning. I do not need a repeat of the last few weeks.

Did you or your family get colds recently?

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