I’m not a scientist. I haven’t done research on germs. But I think we are really taking our fear of seasonal illness too far lately.
It’s only courteous to avoid sneezing or coughing at someone and the health consequences of not doing so are obvious. A friend recently told me about standing in line at a store when the stranger ahead of him turned and coughed – open-mouthed, right into my friend’s face! That’s not just disgusting, but my friend found himself getting sick soon afterward. It doesn’t take a genius to see a possible connection.
But flushing a toilet with your foot and otherwise behaving like a Cirque du Soleil troupe member to avoid touching anything touched by anyone else seems a little paranoid to me. We build up immunities to things by exposing ourselves to them. Practising general cleanliness once a handle has been touched seems a more reasonable response. I think we’re over-using hand sanitizer – and I use it too! But not every minute or even every hour. I also don’t touch my face after shaking someone’s hand. Common. Sense.
Now we’re H1N1 crazy after the death of a 13 year old boy who had played hockey in London when he became ill. Younger people simply do not have the natural immunities to certain viruses built up in their systems because of a lack of exposure. Slathering them in hand sanitizer isn’t going to facilitate that. The death of that lad was incredibly sad but put it in perspective. How many children have died in car accidents or from other illnesses since? Let’s not get hysterical. One boy’s death is one too many, no matter the cause, but I don’t see us keeping 13 year olds out of cars because of crashes.
We’re all going to get a little bit dirty no matter how hard we try not to. There’s minimizing your risk and then there’s living in fear. As for me, I’m choosing the former, not the latter.