Dr. Larry C. Bobbert
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No kidding! This CDC photograph captured a sneeze in progress,
revealing the plume of salivary droplets as they are expelled in a
large cone-shaped array from this man's open mouth. The flu
virus can spread in this manner and survive long enough on a
doorknob or countertop to infect another person. It dramatically
illustrating the reason you should cover your mouth when
sneezing or coughing to protect others from germ exposure,
health officials say. It’s also why you need to wash your hands a
lot, on the assumptions others don’t always cover their sneezes.
Credit: CDC/James Gathany
MORE INFORMATION AT THE
Click the picture or type the
following into your browser:
keyboards in school computer labs.
Have you ever watched...school kids in a
lab? They sneeze, cough, wipe runny
noses, and otherwise exude illness
and then go right back to typing and
mousing. Older folks, quite frankly, aren’t
much better and shared computer labs
really are a significant source of
potential disease transmission.
True, those keyboards probably won’t kill
you. However, the H1N1 season began
in this hemisphere August 15th and
seasonal flu is approaching quickly. ....
... Clorox wipes will do the trick pretty
well, but Apple recommends a multi-
step process that just isn’t realistic given
time constraints and everything else our
staff will need to be keeping extra clean. .
books, according to a UW study. A group of students
contaminants on keyboards in two of the computer
labs on campus.
Jacob Bowdle, a student and frequent library
computer user, checks his e-mail at Odegaard
Undergraduate Library July 8. Staph and fecal
coliform bacteria were found on keyboards in the
library and in Mary Gates Hall.
...students tested the keyboards ... Library and the
first floor of Mary Gates Hall for microbial
contaminants, specifically methicillin-resistant
Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a type of bacteria
that is resistant to certain antibiotics, and fecal
coliforms, bacteria that suggest the presence of
“A lot of students get sick, and they don’t know
why,” said Danny Ormeni, one of the students
involved in the experiment.
“We started this project because computer
keyboards have been suspected as a reservoir of
pathogens in many public places, like hospitals and
schools,” said Gwy-Am Shin, an assistant professor
of environmental and occupational health sciences.
While the students didn’t find any MRSA, they did
find staph and fecal coliforms. Staph is an
opportunistic pathogen, meaning that contact with
the microorganisms through an open cut can lead to
“An interesting thing in our study is that the level of
fecal coliforms was unusually high despite the low
sensitivity of our method,” said Shin. “Although fecal
coliforms are not pathogens themselves, their
presence indicates a possible presence of human
pathogens, and the high level of fecal coliforms
increases the likelihood of the presence of human
pathogens on the computer keyboards.”
The group tested three sets of five computers from
each lab in a random sampling. Altogether, 30
computer keyboards were tested.
Odegaard had a higher presence of fecal coliforms
than Mary Gates. The students said the most
probable reason for this is that hand sanitizer is
readily available at Mary Gates, but there isn’t any at
“Disinfectant does help because people will use it,”
Ormeni said the University should look into having
more sanitizing products available near keyboards.
“We interviewed a few of the librarians,” Wong said.
“They don’t clean the keyboards on a regular basis.”
Wong said the library staff stores cleaning materials
behind the counter and will give them to students
who ask. However, no signs indicate that those
materials are available to students, she said.
Many UW students said they are not surprised the
keyboards are dirty.
“Everybody’s using the keyboards, so I kind of expect
they will be dirty,” said Katie Parks, who is enrolled
in an English language program at the UW. “I
thought they cleaned them a couple of times a year.”
It’s not uncommon to see students eating at
computers, but some are wary.
“There’s no way I’d eat anything when I’m using one
[a keyboard]” junior Kemp Nicklin said. “Just looking
at this one I can see hair, dirt, food, chunks of paper.
I wouldn’t say it’s terribly surprising.”
“I’ve heard typical keyboards are dirtier than toilets,”
Odegaard and Mary Gates were chosen because of
the high traffic at these locations; however, the
results of the experiment may not be applicable to
the rest of the campus.
“Their representativeness for all the other computer
labs at the UW mig