Death (by Superbug) at Your Fingertips

By Deb Perelman  |  Posted 2007-10-22 Print this article Print

More than 90,000 cases of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, known as MRSA, were reported in 2005, according to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Oct. 16, one of several recent reports that have schools, day-care centers, hospitals and workplaces in a tizzy in recent weeks.

A report in the Journal of the American Medical Association last week found that MRSA caused nearly 19,000 deaths and some 94,000 infections in 2005. MRSA is a strain of bacteria that does not respond to penicillin or related antibiotics, and though it can be treated with other drugs, the infection can be spread quickly and easily through skin-to-skin contact, or use shared items that have been used by an infected person, like towels, clothes, sports equipment... or even office keyboards and phones.

Yes—as if you didn't have enough to stress about between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.—your keyboard could actually kill you.

The keyboard below your fingertips, bacterially speaking, is a virtual reservoir of disease-causing germs, and news about Staph and other bacterial outbreaks recently have thrust this once-innocent piece of office equipment into the spotlight.

Advice on keeping computer keyboards germ-free has moved well beyond the canned compressed air and into the nitty-gritty: lint-free cloths, key removal and flat-tip screwdrivers.

Experts recommend that keyboards are cleaned at least once a week, or between each use if a shared desktop. If you're not sure if something has been cleaned, play it safe and clean it anyway—MRSAs can live for up to 90 days. Most pertinently, with new keyboards starting as low as $10, this is not the time to be too worried about breaking one to give it a thorough cleaning. |

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