7 Unexpected Germ Risks for Cystic Fibrosis Patients

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by Brad Dell |

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Most CF patients already know the classic places or objects to be cautious around when it comes to germ precautions: remote controls, nebulizer cups, cell phones, hospital areas, etc. With the flu outbreak in epidemic levels and the general need for CF patients to be extra cautious of germs, it’s wise to take into consideration other areas that pose health risks.

Gym equipment and chalk
Outside of the airborne bacteria, did you know there are 74 times more bacteria on a treadmill than a water faucet? Or 362 times more bacteria on free weights than a toilet seat? Performance chalk and other particles floating through the air can also act as vehicles for airborne microorganisms to be breathed into your lungs.

Jet air dryers in the restroom
A 2016 study found that jet air dryers (the type you stick your hands into, not under) can shoot microbes into the air — 1,300 times more than if you used paper towels and 60 times more than a standard warm air dryer. This isn’t a big problem if people wash their hands properly. But does everyone?

Kitchen sinks and sponges
The sink is an ideal environment for E. coli and other bacteria to grow, as it’s wet and there’s food in the drain or on dirty dishes to feed on. In fact, there are typically more germs in a kitchen sponge than in a toilet bowl.

Cutting boards
“In most cases, it’s safer to make a salad on a toilet seat than it is to make one on a cutting board,” said Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist, to Food & Wine magazine. When cooking, many people forget to switch/clean cutting boards when cutting raw meat or produce. Check out these cutting board tips.

Bacteria such as Pseudomonas, Staphylococcus, Bacillus, and Acinetobacter can live in ice, which can then melt into your drinks. What you drink can eventually be aspirated into your lungs. Read a disturbing report on bacteria in ice cubes at your own risk.

Pillow can carry fungi, plus absorb your sweat, shedded skin, and drool. Pillows can also carry dust mites, which commonly trigger asthma.

Seasoning shakers, sauce bottles, menus
Eating with your hands right after seasoning your food? You might want to wash your hands first. How many people touched those items on the table before you? On that note, menus can be the germiest item in a restaurant — 16 times more germ-infested than a pepper shaker.

MORE: Click here to check out other CF-specific risks


Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.