Are germs on your cell phone a health risk?

Your phone is dirty, but could it be so dirty, it's making you sick?

Well, if you need  reminder, an undergraduate class conducted a study to show people how much bacteria is actually growing on their mobile devices and other everyday items.

The pictures of the bacteria that could be lurking on your cell phone -- disgusting, right?  They were part of a study at the University of Surrey, in which the students dipped their phones in petri dishes, then watched what flourished over the next three days.

The results?

Not pretty, but not necessarily a major health risk.  While some phones were found to carry colonies like staphylococcus, which can cause skin infections, most of the bacteria were harmless.

But our cell phones are far from the only culprit when it comes to gross germs.  Consider some MetroCard machines with their dirty screens and everything else we touch when we take mass transit.

"I would say subway handles are for sure number one. Also door handles, restaurant surfaces. Things like that. Wherever there are a lot of people and a lot of sick people, those would be the surfaces to avoid," said Dr. Elan Levy, an attending emergency physician at Lennox Hill Hospital and adds that the best thing you can do is keep your hands clean.

But sometimes, hand sanitizer is no where in sight and you can't avoid that doorknob, elevator button or phone receiver.  In that case, Dr. Levy says, "Avoid touching things in public and then touching your face. A lot of these viruses and bacteria are transmitted through the mucous which is transmitted through the nose and other areas of the body."

As for those cell phones, well the lecturer overseeing the study recommended a weekly wipe down to keep the germs at bay.

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