While germs can spread in just about any environment, there are certain places that can become hotbeds for the influenza virus. If you spend a lot of time in any of the following environments, use extra caution to keep from getting sick.
• Public restrooms: While it may not be surprising to learn that public restrooms harbor germs, the most problematic surfaces aren’t what you’d think. Most people peg toilets as the most infectious areas; however, it’s the germs in the sink that tend to thrive and survive the longest.
• Grocery stores: While most people tend to avoid public places when they are falling ill, the grocery store tends to be an exception. As they shop for medicine, fluids and chicken soup, sick shoppers tend to spread germs to shopping carts and self-checkout systems.
• The mall: From escalator handrails and food court tables to door handles and, of course, public restrooms, malls contain all sorts of surfaces that come into contact with hundreds of tainted hands.
• Restaurants: Unfortunately, busboys don’t always use the cleanest rags to wipe down tables. What’s more, because they tend to be short-staffed, restaurants are infamous for allowing servers to continue working when they are obviously under the weather.
• Libraries: With so many people touching the same books and keyboards, germs are bound to spread.
• Public transportation: When surfaces are exposed to a constant flow of people, they tend to gather germs. Buses, subways and taxi cabs are some of the busiest places on the planet.
• Schools: Since they haven’t quite mastered good hygiene, children tend to pass germs from one another quite easily.
Reducing Your Risk
While you may not be able to avoid all of these germ hotbeds, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of falling ill this flu season. First, get a seasonal flu shot, which can drastically lower your risk of getting sick. You should also wash your hands frequently and be careful not to touch your face, since this allows virus particles to enter the nose, eyes, ears or mouth.