Bacteria are thought to be the initial occupants of planet earth. They first appeared some 4 billion years ago, when the earth was void and just an empty wasteland. Bacteria are everywhere, from our stomachs, to the food we eat, to our toilet seats. And while a large percentage of them are necessary for life to exist, yet another percentage are harmful and detrimental to life. As such, there is a need to protect ourselves from them if we are to lead a healthy life. Examples of beneficial bacteria include those present in the human gut, also referred to as probiotics. On the other hand, harmful bacteria include Lyme disease, syphilis, and Bacillus anthracis.
Harmful bacteria can engineer diseases and illnesses in humans that they infect. Some of those diseases these organisms can cause are staph infections, strep throat, pneumonia, dysentery, and typhoid, among others.
Your Keyboard and Bacteria
If you were asked the question “Where would you find the most bacteria?” you would probably say on toilet seats. And while you are not alone, as that is what a vast majority of use would answer, you would be wrong. The reason is that even your computer keyboard has about 400 times more of these microorganisms than the average toilet seat. Before this, you probably wouldn’t even think it possible that your computer keyboard is home to a host of potentially harmful bacteria–including Entamoeba coli and Staphylococcus.
A growing body of research suggests that computer keyboards and mice are effective breeding grounds for germs. This phenomenon has recently been brought to light by several researchers, including through the use of tests at an office environment in the United Kingdom. These tests were commissioned by a consumer advocacy group in which James Francis, a British microbiologist, took a swab of 33 keyboards, a toilet door handle and a toilet seat at the London office of the group. Francis then tested the swabs to identify the germs or microorganisms in the swabs.
The results obtained showed that four of these keyboards were potential health hazards, and one of these keyboards had levels of germs that were about five times higher than that found in toilet seats.
Other studies in different places around the world proved this phenomenon. For instance, researchers at the Swinburne University of Technology, Australia, tested both personal and shared faculty keyboards, as well as other surfaces within the University community. Their results corroborated the above assertion. That is not all, however, as the researchers at the University of Arizona discovered during their own study, which was conducted using samples collected from offices across the USA, that desktop computers in these places have bacteria that are about 400 times more than those on toilet seats on average.
What’s more, researchers who used Chicago Northwestern Memorial Hospital as their center, discovered that two bacteria – Enterococcus faecium and Staphylococcus aureus – that are not only drug-resistant, but also quite deadly, can survive for as long as 24 hours on a computer keyboard.
All of these point to the potential of your keyboard to infect you with diseases you normally wouldn’t think possible.
How You Amass Bacteria on Your Keyboard
During the course of the studies mentioned above, researchers discovered that a majority of the bacteria identified are harmless. It was postulated that most of the bacteria got onto the keyboards as a result of our hands typing. The reason they concluded that the bacteria are harmless is because most of them are the types normally found on our skin, inside our mouths, as well as inside our nasal passages.
And while the majority of these bacteria are harmless, they are still capable of being detrimental. This is especially true when you have a weak immune system because of a prior disease. They can also result in infections if you had a cut on the fingers with which you type. Because of this, it is best to be careful and take certain precautions when using a keyboard, especially if it is a public one.
Due to this, it is best that you take precautions when using keyboards, especially if they are shared. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling one – a keyboard, telephone, or any other such tool. You can either use ordinary soap and water, or an alcohol-based sanitizing solution. Also, avoid eating while you type, as this results in you ingesting the bacteria your hands pick up from the keyboard.
Ways to Expel Bacteria from Computer Keyboards and Stay Safe
Despite the precautions mentioned above, it is quite essential that you keep your computer clean and expel these bacteria.
To ensure your health is not compromised, use a disinfectant, preferably an alcohol-based one, when sanitizing a surface, whether it is the workstation on which your computer sits, the keyboard, or the computer itself. You can utilize a can of compressed air to remove whatever debris sits in between the keys of your keyboard. And when you are disinfecting your keyboard, use a cotton swab that has been dampened with an appropriate disinfectant. Also, endeavor to clean the rest of your keyboard using a lint-free cloth – so as to prevent scratches, among other things – that has also been dampened with the sanitizing solution you are using.