Your Healthy Family: Is the flu virus lurking on your cell phone?

11:18 AM, Jan 21, 2019

COLORADO SPRINGS – As we continue through flu season, we have some important reminders: Make sure to get your flu vaccine, wash your hands frequently and cover your cough.  You should also consider frequently cleaning your cell phone screen.

Susanna Sullard is a registered nurse and infection prevention specialist at UCHealth Memorial Hospital, a job that is always important,  especially during flu season.

Susanna explains: “It’s really easy to transmit the flu just by being close to somebody who has the flu.  The flu virus can last on surfaces for sometimes up to hours — hard surfaces especially. We may inadvertently touch our nose or touch our mouth after you’ve touched something contaminated with the flu virus and then you’re possibly exposed to the flu.”

As part of her job in preventing infection, Susanna uses an ATP machine that can basically measure the amount of bacteria on any given surface,and that amount is translated into a score.  “We know that after we’ve cleaned something we can get a number on this (ATP) machine to tell us whether it’s been cleaned or disinfected and sanitized effectively. We want the scores to be below 10 light units in operating rooms and also on surfaces where patients eat.”

Susanna says cell phones can be one of the dirtiest items we carry around with us on a daily basis, and people often pull them out and use them at inadvertent times, transferring potentially harmful bacteria from their hands to their mouth. “For instance, while you’re eating, don’t have a french fry and then send a text. You want to make sure that you’re not introducing anything into your into your mouth and your body from your environment.”

So along with the flu shot, hand-washing and covering your cough, add disinfecting your cell phone to your disease prevention list – especially in flu season.

Susanna says, “Periodically clean your phone.  You just want to use some disinfectant wipes. You don’t need anything fancy, you can use any kind of disinfectant, or disinfectant wipe and just wipe your screen and then dry it off.”

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