Hotel guests leave plenty of germs behind
September 29, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- [b]Hotel guests leave behind more than just socks and old paperbacks: A new study found viruses on TV remotes, light switches and even hotel pens after cold sufferers checked out.
The germ testing was done before the rooms were cleaned, so it probably overstates the risks that most travelers would face. Nevertheless, it shows the potential hazards if a hotel's turnaround amounts to little more than changing the sheets and wiping out the tub.
"You sure hope the cleaning people were good," said Dr. Owen Hendley, the University of Virginia pediatrician who presented results of the study Friday at a meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.
Besides hotel hazards, the findings point out things that people may not think to clean in their homes when someone has a cold.
"We know that viruses can survive on surfaces for a long time -- more than four days," said Dr. Birgit Winther, an ear, nose and throat specialist at the university who led the study.
Its aim was to test the survival of rhinoviruses, which cause about half of all colds, especially in children.
Researchers had 15 people with lab-confirmed rhinovirus colds spend a night in individual rooms at a nearby hotel and, after they checked out, tested 10 items they said they had touched. About one-third of the objects were contaminated with rhinovirus.
"We were surprised to find so many," Winther said.
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Can you imagine the germs on computers used in public libraries and school computer labs?