Dec 3rd, 2011 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Lifestyle, Health & Fitness

Strange But Predictable Places for Germs to Hide

Studies over the past several years tell us seniors where germs hide in public places.  We’ve learned they park themselves on the cart handles at our favorite grocery stores.  They are always present on door knobs to restrooms in public places.  And those pesky bad guys are on salt and pepper and ketchup and mustard containers on restaurant tables. Restaurant menus are notorious for passing germs from one patron to another.

SCJ editors learned recently that germs were found on lemon wedges sliced and placed on the rim of glasses of water and iced tea.

“According to a 2007 study in the Journal of Environmental Health, nearly 70 percent of the lemon wedges perched on the rims of restaurant glasses contain disease-causing microbes. When the researchers ordered drinks at 21 different restaurants, they found 25 different microorganisms lingering on the 76 lemons they secured, including E. coli and other fecal bacteria.”  (

Soap dispensers, supposedly containing soap that helps us get rid of bacteria on our hands, also contain germs that cause disease.  “About 25 percent of public restroom dispensers are contaminated with fecal bacteria.”  (

Seniors Protect Themselves Against Disease

There are several solutions that experts (and good old-fashioned common sense) suggest:

  • Carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you at all times.  So after you handle a restaurant menu, or door knob, or condiment container, or anything you have observed someone sneezing on or at, sanitize your hands.  This means you may do so several times in one establishment.  Afraid of what people might think of you?  Shift your thinking.  Catching a bug or an e-coli infection is much more stressful than people raising eyebrows in your direction.
  • Use the sanitizing cloths provided by supermarkets near the cart pick-up area.  Don’t be afraid of what people think of you sanitizing the handle of the cart you use.  Just wipe it down before you enter the store.
  • After you touch anything in any public place that others have handled, sanitize your hands.

One of SCJ’s Senior Editors has been ill with flu-like symptoms for a week.  Fever, nausea, listless-ness, and general malaise.  It is highly likely he contracted bacteria at a restaurant or supermarket just before the Thanksgiving holiday.  His sick days interfered with his enjoyment of family and special holiday times together.  Not a good trade-off for not using a sanitizer in the supermarket and restaurants.

So his advice?  Just sanitize.  Just do it.

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