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Germiest Things in Hotel Rooms? Stuff You Touch First


Want to avoid germs during your next hotel stay? Wipe down that TV remote and the switch on your bedside lamp before you touch them.

Researchers from the University of Houston took bacteria samples from several items in hotel rooms in three states, reports

While you might expect the toilet and the sink to have high levels of bacteria, researchers found more surprising items with high contamination levels, such as the remote and the switch on the bedside lamp -- items you frequently touch first.

As for the germs in the rest of the room, researchers found that it's the person assigned to cleaning your hotel room who may be spreading the bacteria.

Researcher Katie Kirsch found that the highest levels of contamination were found on the maid's cleaning cart, specifically on the mop and sponge. That means that bacteria are being carried from room to room, she wrote.

While hotel rooms don't have to be surgically sterile, researchers say there is certainly room for improvement: Bacteria levels in hotel rooms were between two to 10 times higher than the level accepted in hospitals, the study found.

The amount of bacteria on the remote may not mean that it's "any dirtier than at home, but there's a stranger factor" in a hotel room, study researcher Jack Neal, a microbiologist at the University of Houston, told

The lowest levels of bacteria were found on the headboard, curtain rods and bathroom door handle.

This doesn't mean that the bacteria in your hotel room is going to make you sick, but it does raise the odds of it happening.

The one drawback is that this study was fairly small -- only nine hotel rooms were tested in three states: Texas, Indiana and South Carolina.

The study was presented last week at the American Society for Microbiology conference in San Francisco.

In other health news:

Doubts about Celebrex data continue. The release of e-mails and other internal Pfizer documents about its arthritis pain drug Celebrex add to continuing doubts about the drug's safety, the New York Times reports. Critics say the company is still dragging its feet on a six-year study of the drug's heart risks. The study is scheduled to end in May 2014, the same month that Celebrex loses its patent protection and sales of the drug are expected to plunge.

Seattle pool allows topless breast cancer survivor. The Associated Press reports that a 47-year-old Seattle breast cancer survivor whose breasts were surgically removed during cancer treatment has gained the permission to swim topless at a city pool during adult lap hours.

Nearly 400 now sick from tainted tuna in sushi.  Nearly 400 people in 27 states and the District of Columbia have now been sickened by an outbreak of two rare strains of salmonella detected in raw tuna products used in supermarket and restaurant sushi and other dishes. reports that some 390 have become ill and 47 have been hospitalized, up from 316 confirmed infections and 37 hospitalizations in May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed. No deaths have been reported.

Diabetes epidemic brings spike in related eye disease. USA Today reports that the nation's rising level of diabetes is causing a significant jump in older adults with vision problems from a related condition called diabetic retinopathy. From 2000 to 2010, there was an 89 per cent increase in the number of people with diabetic retinopathy, which affects the tiny blood vessels of the retina and can impair vision. About 7.7 million people ages 40 and older have the disease, the new estimates say.

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