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Money Can Carry the Flu Virus

The December, 2009, issue of Consumer Reports offers a couple tips for prevention of flu and swine flu. In their poll a few months ago, CR learned that only 34% of respondents intended to get the swine flu vaccine, so it behooves us all to practice good hygiene during this flu season.

N95 surgical mask to prevent swine flu

While they recommended frequent hand washing and a N95 surgical mask for caregivers of flu patients, the most interesting thing I learned was that “some evidence suggests a virus can survive for three days on paper money.”

Wow: a virus can live for 3 days on a piece of paper! I always knew money was dirty, though I think I had assumed it was more coins than bills.

I remember a biologist friend shuddering as she recounted her willful preschooler licking a penny just to spite her informed mother. “I’ve seen what’s on coins underneath the microscope,” my friend cried. “They are swarming with germs.”

Luckily, her little girl didn’t pick anything nasty up that day, but the Consumer Reports article is a good reminder to always wash our hands after handling money. It’s probably a good habit to get into, even when we’re not facing a flu outbreak!

CR also recommends using disinfectant wipes on phones and computer keyboards, another good practice to remember since they can hang onto germs we bring in on our hands from the outside. Their final piece of advice is that if you have a cough and fever, STAY HOME! To this I’ll add, “and take Oscillococcum immediately!”

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