Computer keyboards make excellent homes for germsAs you read this article, you may be sitting near a computer with your newspaper in hand or you may be reading this online at your computer.
As you read this article, you may be sitting near a computer with your newspaper in hand or you may be reading this online at your computer.
While doing so, you may be taking time to munch on a snack. Or perhaps it’s lunchtime and you're eating a sandwich. Be warned, because what you may not realize is that you unintentionally are exposing yourself to the risk of “QWERTY tummy,” nicknamed after the first six letters on a computer keyboard.
Many computer users are at risk of becoming ill with stomach bugs or “qwerty tummy,” caused by bacteria from dirty computer keyboards. The unsanitary condition of computer keyboards raises particular concern for individuals in environments where computers are shared, such as schools, offices and libraries.
Numerous studies have shown that computer keyboards contain more germs than, for example, toilet seats. Additionally, the germs can remain alive on computer keyboards for up to two days. If a person using the computer touches their mouth, nose or eyes with their hand, they are subject to contracting a virus or bacteria.
The term “qwerty tummy” (the non-alphabetical arrangement of letters at the top left of a keyboard result in the keys Q, W, E, R, T and Y) first appeared in 2008 in a study on office hygiene by a British consumer group Which?.
Scientific experts swabbed 33 computer keyboards for food poisoning bugs such as e-coli and staphylococcus, comparing the results to those found on toilet seats and door handles. The findings were shocking, with some keyboards housing five times more bacteria than toilet seats.
In 2007, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) documented for the first time an outbreak of gastrointestinal disease attributable in part to a norovirus found on a shared computer keyboard and mouse. The disease was contracted by 27 students and two faculty members in an elementary school.
Many of us and our children use shared computers on a regular basis. Knowing that the computer keyboard and mouse are hotbeds for germs, it is prudent to take precautions to protect yourself and your family from the flu or other contagious diseases.
Frequent hand washing is essential. In addition, various methods, from the simple to the sophisticated, are available to clean contaminated keyboards and mice.
Although you cannot eliminate all germs from your life, taking these simple steps can substantially reduce the risk of illness from shared computer equipment.
How to protect yourself
Wash hands. Hands should be washed with soap and not simply rinsed with water. Also, avoid touching your face, because germs can transfer from your hands to your mouth, nose and eyes.
Disinfect items on your desk. The CDC suggests wiping down all desk items with a solution of household bleach and water or disinfectant wipes. Place a container of wipes in your desk and develop a routine of wiping off your computer and other equipment at the end of the day or first thing in the morning