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Surge Desk

Viral Hit of the Worst Kind: Flu Season Meets iPads, Touch Screens

Oct 14, 2010 – 2:07 PM
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David Knowles

David Knowles Writer

(Oct. 14) -- How to keep a hot spot from becoming a hot zone of germs?

Over the past year, touch-screen technology has swept the globe. And now, with the start of cold and flu season, the world is about to experience just how social old-fashioned viruses can be.

The same week it was announced that Apple had reached a deal allowing Verizon to begin selling Wi-Fi-only versions of the iPad on Oct. 28, a new study released by the Journal of Applied Microbiology cautions against sharing touch screens with others during flu season.

"If you're sharing the device, then you're sharing your influenza with someone else who touches it," Timothy Julian, the Stanford doctoral student who co-authored the study, told The Sacramento Bee.

While that rather intuitive finding may be enough to keep some people from lending an iPhone 4 to a friend, or keeping that Droid hidden from kids wanting to play the latest game, the germ-laden touch screen is a piece of technology that is increasingly difficult to avoid. From electronic airport kiosks, to ATM machines, to subway ticket vendors, we now live in a thoroughly multi-touchable world.

But is our reliance on mobile devices making the world a more germ-ridden place? According to British researchers, the average cellphone handset carries 18 times as many germs as the handle of a toilet in the average men's room toilet.

On the bright side, a new app called FluShotter -- available for the iPod Touch, iPad and iPhone -- can tell you where to go to find a flu shot this year. Just make sure you don't pass around the touch screen too much to show it off.

And still more companies are sensing a growing market for touch-screen disinfecting. Here, for example, is a YouTube ad for iKlear:



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