Health Warning On Computer Keyboards

  MrCutter 14:23 01 May 2008

So it's not just the NHS in trouble!

Your computer keyboard could be dirtier than your toilet.

A study from Which? Computing has found some keyboards contained more bacteria than the average lavatory seat.

Researchers took swabs from 30 office keyboards and uncovered a cocktail of bugs that can cause infection and illness. Two contained staphylococcus aureus which can lead to skin infections and food poisoning.

In one case, microbiologist James Francis recommended that a keyboard be removed as a precaution. He described its bacteria readings as "off the scale". Mr Francis said the contamination is largely due to a lack of proper lunch breaks.

"More and more people are eating at their desks and are transferring from hand to mouth all the time. That is making things worse," he explained.

"Telephones are also a problem. We have found a lot of pathogenic disease causing bacteria on telephones in hotel rooms for example. "It is often down to common sense. If something looks grimy and horrible there is a good chance it is."

Jaclyn Clarabut, assistant editor at Which? Computing, told Sky News Online people have to take responsibility for their office environment.

"People should use alcohol wipes to really get rid of the germs. The best thing is to tip them upside down and watch the crumbs fall out. Once that's gone the bacteria stops growing," she said.

"If people don't clean their keyboards regularly, they might as well eat lunch in the toilet."

Contrary to some advice posted online though, office workers should not take their keyboards home and put them in the dishwasher.

Similar tests have found that mobile phones, desks and London underground seats can all be dirtier than toilets.

  johndrew 15:28 01 May 2008

If I remember correctly, it was a lack of telephone hygienists that caused a huge loss of life in `The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy`.

On the BBC news last night it was suggested that children may well benefit from not being brought up in a sterile atmosphere. The adage `you`ve got to eat a bit of dirt before you die` comes to mind. As children we used to go to `Chicken Pox parties` to ensure we all went down with it at a similar time. This also applied to other infectious diseases of childhood. We also played in the dirt and made `mud pies`.

On the other hand hospitals always smelled of bleach and antiseptic (cleanliness being next to godliness) as the nurses were always cleaning; watched over by Matron.

Perhaps the concern over disease and the reliance upon anti-biotic (medication and materials) has led to an oversensitising of society to those ailments which we used to become immune to as part of growing up. The reverse appears to be true in hospitals which are more likely to smell of air freshener than bleach. Cleanliness is important but so is a natural resistance to disease that can be enhanced by a reduced reliance on the overuse of drugs.

  Earthsea 16:22 01 May 2008

Which? Computing is a little slow because this has been known about for ages.

I'm sure we'll survive somehow, and the amount of silly 'health advice' that's around these days has started to reach epidemic proportions.

  Forum Editor 17:24 01 May 2008

in the Which? study is exactly a revelation. As Earthsea says, all this has been pretty common knowledge for years.

  wee eddie 17:38 01 May 2008

each one of us takes-in infinitesimal quantities of harmful Pathogenic Bacteria, every day of our life. No one really knows.

We do know that our bodies are able to handle most, if not all, of these Bacteria in small quantities.

Problems only occur when a few Pathogenic Bacteria manage to find a home, in a suitable growing medium and are able to stay there for sufficient time, at a temperature suitable for multiplication. When sufficient quantities of that growing medium is then transferred to ones stomach, it will then bring with it, sufficient Bacteria with it to overcome a body's natural defences.

It makes sense to keep your keyboard clean and wiping it with your sandwiches 2 hours before you eat them would be ill-advised.

As "Godfrey" would say "Don't panic"

  Blackhat 17:42 01 May 2008

I was wondering, when did the ‘Lavatory Seat’ become the benchmark standard for measuring against regarding the cleanliness of things and places.

My lavatory seat is quite clean and I expect there are many areas of my home and work place that harbor more bacteria and bugs.

johndrew puts it well regarding getting dirty, we need to build up resistance from an early age, the World Health Organization has been warning for many years about the over prescription of antibiotics.

  Forum Editor 20:09 01 May 2008

on the radio the other day. She was bemoaning the fact that parents mollycoddle their children to such an extent that they aren't exposed to enough simple infection early in life, when their immune systems are developing, and as a consequence are far more prone to being plagued with repeated illnesses when they grow up.

"Let them play in a bit of dirt" she said "and stop treating them like hothouse flowers".

  Bingalau 20:36 01 May 2008

I remember playing in the streets as children and most of us had snotty noses, we sailed home made boats in the gutters when there was a thunderstorm, seeing whose contraption went the fastest in the swirling muddy waters. We killed big bluebottles by the use of a length of elastic with a knot on the end. We dug holes in the soil in the park and ran when the park scuffers came. The only illness I had in those days and for years after was tonsillitis. Cured by their eventual removal at the age of 21. (not recommended, I lost a stone in weight through being unable to eat). Happy days!!!

Mind you I have made up for it lately with geriatric incontinence and all sorts of other age related maladies, deafness, hernias, keratoses, memory fading fast etc. Still got most of my teeth though and of course my driving licence...

  WhiteTruckMan 22:19 01 May 2008

as a consumeable item anyway, but just how would you manage to adequately clean/disinfect one without stuffing it up? You can wipe one down with a disinfectant dampened rag, but that will not shift whats beween the keys. Alternatively, you can spray it, but that doesnt strike me as being too healthy for the keyboard.

Any ideas?


  Brumas 22:26 01 May 2008

click here
I haven't tried it myself but if it does what it says then the problem is solvable.

  Bapou 22:42 01 May 2008

I recall from way back, warnings not to sit on a public toilet seat, it could ruin your sex life!

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