You know that icky, "I'm gonna get sick any minute" feeling you get sometimes when you walk into a public restroom? Turns out, it's totally justified. New research finds that public potties are just as filthy as you thought they were.

 

For two months, researchers from the University of Florida's College of Medicine, led by epidemiologist Dr. Lennox Archibald, swabbed and cultured faucets, towel dispensers, and door handles inside the bathrooms of airplanes, fast-food restaurants and other public restrooms in high traffic areas.

 

Not surprisingly, the areas were covered in germs, mostly commonly staphylococcus, the bacteria that causes fevers and chills, and bacillus, the cause of diarrhea.

 

“For several restrooms, the quantity of microorganisms was too numerous to count,” Archibald noted in his research paper on the topic.  “…To date, there have been virtually no quantitative or qualitative assessments of the range of bacteria contaminating public restrooms.” Archibald presented his findings on Oct. 21 at the Infectious Diseases Society of America in Boston.

 

So what can you do the next time your 2-year-old just has to go in the middle of a crowded mall? It would be awesome if you could avoid these germ-fests all of the time, but sometimes — particularly with kids — that's just not realistic. Use the restroom of course, and wash, wash, wash those hands as well as you can afterwards. If possible, use a paper towel to handle faucets and door handles after you've washed.  

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