Health is precious. When we’re sick, not only do we lose out in doing what was planned, when we physically feel miserable, it affects our emotions too. It becomes more difficult when family member after member comes down with the same illness, especially at the same time. Even worse is getting over the virus, and getting it back again! Everyone wants to avoid contagion in their own home.
With the popularity of the movie, Contagion, it dramatized the transfer of a virus by touching the same surfaces that an infected person touched. The L.A. Times interviewed a panel of doctors to ask how realistic was the movie Contagion. One point was made that viruses do not survive on dry surfaces for very long. How does a virus spread in the family, if it isn’t about sneezing or coughing into their hand and touching the same doorknob, or glass? (One should try to cough or sneeze into the crook of their arm so they don’t transfer a bug to someone’s hand who then touches their face though.)
There is a solution that I wish everyone knew to prevent illness, and it is an easy behavior to acquire that may make the difference to not spread germs from person to person in a household.
A doctoral student made his thesis to investigate why sicknesses quickly spread in the family. Did you know that if you are battling a virus or bacteria, it is also found to be quite present in the toilet after one goes to the bathroom? This scientist put petri dishes around the bathroom in homes where someone was sick. He found that when people flush the toilet with the lid up, there is a fine spray bloom that shoots up in the air an average of 6 feet, and out about 10 feet. So not only was all the surfaces within 10 feet of a toilet covered with the attacking bug, but there was urine and fecal matter spread around as well. And if there were toothbrushes nearby, what they collected was just GROSS! That makes sense. If you have had the misfortune of sitting on a toilet that has an automatic sensor that it flushed before you stood up, it does not feel dry!
But not everyone knows or remembers to flush with the lid down. Charles Gerba, PhD, a professor of microbiology at University of Arizona found that the bacterial mist ejected when the toilet is flushed with the lid up can stay in the air for at least two hours. Bacteria and virus love to gain entry into the blood through the lungs. To avoid this when planning to do bathroom remodeling, have a wall barrier between the toilet and the sink area for sanitary purposes, if you can’t put the toilet in its own space. If the room configuration or bathroom remodeling budget does not allow separation, specify a hands free faucet, so after you wash your hands, you don’t have to touch anything that could have been recently misted—a toilet without a lid closed is a clue that the last person flushed with the lid up. Have adequate cabinet storage for all personal items to be stored off the counter. Have a medicine cabinet with a station for toothbrushes, and outlet for charging them.
This could all be solved if someone created toilets that won’t flush until the lid is down. I’d want them required them in all public restrooms, especially airports, wouldn’t you?
Telling people the importance of putting the toilet lid down before they flush may help prevent the spread of disease. Maybe you will help lower health care costs among friends and neighbors and even positively impact the economy with people not being too sick to work. It may also end the battle in some households over men not putting the toliet lid down!