The “hidden” places where viruses lurk

The viruses that cause the classic winter ailments can settle on objects and surfaces where they remain active for days – or even weeks – and then transfer to our hands that, almost inevitably, we will bring to the mouth or nose, infecting us.

Many objects are now known as possible sources of germs (door handles, bedside tables, bathroom surfaces, toys…), while others are unsuspected, or almost.

So here is the “top ten” of hiding places for viruses and bacteria to which, in general, we do not pay attention.

1 Pets
2 Shower head
3 Salt and pepper containers
4 Supermarket trolleys
5 Lemon wedges in drinks
6 Aircraft
7 Remote control at the hotel
8 Desk in the office
9 Computer in the office
10 Mobile phone


Dog and cat lovers may take it a bit, but it seems that some pets are infected with pathogens that also affect humans (such as the fearsome methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) and can also transmit them to their owners.

Therefore, in addition to washing your hands well after playing with our faithful friend, if in this period we hear him sneeze repeatedly it is better to stay away from him a little.

Would you have ever thought that, in addition to the pleasant jet of hot water, the shower could spray pathogenic bacteria on us? According to researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder, it’s more than possible.

They found that about 30 percent of the showers studied hid significant loads of an agent that causes pneumonia in their showerheads. Better, therefore, to disassemble our shower every now and then to clean and disinfect it.

The containers of salt and pepper that we find on the tables laden also contain… so many germs! Or rather, they transport them on their surface by exchanging them from one diner to another.

Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, in fact, have demonstrated the presence on these objects of a high amount of rhinoviruses that can transfer so easily from one diner to another.

At the supermarket

According to a group of experts from the University of Arizona, in addition to our shopping, supermarket trolleys can also carry a large amount of microorganisms.

By studying, for example, some fecal bacteria, the researchers found a high percentage of contaminated grips.

Indeed, the share of bacteria per square centimeter was higher than that, on average, found inside a public toilet.

At the bar

According to a study published in the Journal of Environmental Health, in 70 percent of cases the lemon wedges that adorn drinks at the bar are loaded with all kinds of pathogenic microorganisms (up to 25 different species).

Perhaps it is better, therefore, to avoid putting lemon slices in our glasses and reserve this habit for home parties, having the foresight to wash the fruit carefully before using it.


That airplane flights increase the chances of getting sick with colds is not really new, but it is good to reiterate the concept.

What may sound new to us is that the chances of becoming infected are even a hundredfold. The culprits are above all the forced recycling of air (which also recycles rhinoviruses) and the confined space that forces forced proximity.

If we then go to the hotel, pay attention to the remote control: together with the hundreds of channels to which it can give you access, it can also carry a much greater number of germs on your hands.

Researchers at the University of Virginia checked it, finding a high rhinovirus load on hotel remotes. In fact, these devices are often not cleaned, with the consequence of favoring contagion.

In the workplace

On the desks there is a concentration of bacteria and viruses per square centimeter hundreds of times higher than that detectable on the seats of the office toilets.

The warning comes from the University of Arizona in Tucson, where researchers have found that office desks are a perfect habitat for cold and flu viruses.

Even those computers that, for work reasons, are used by multiple employees can be sources of infection. Pay attention especially to keyboard and mouse.

On the phone

Hands are an excellent vehicle for germs and, with normal use, the mobile phone is a really infected object.

Mobile phones are also often kept in your pocket: a warm and pleasant place where viruses can safely wait to be transported to a new individual to infect.

Especially in this season, therefore, it is better not to ask your colleague or friend to make a call from his mobile phone.

Joycelyn Elders is the author and creator of EmpowerEssence, a health and wellness blog. Elders is a respected public health advocate and pediatrician dedicated to promoting general health and well-being.

The blog covers a wide range of topics related to health and wellness, with articles organized into several categories.

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