BacteriaSome of us have an inordinate fear of germs, while others walk around totally oblivious to the fact that the little microbes are lurking in every knook and cranny of our world. I personally fall somewhere in-between. While I cringe when I see someone leaving a public restroom without washing their hands, I take it as a reminder not to touch my face – no matter what – when I’m in a public place.

Since I can’t avoid touching things that others before me have handled, I do my best to implement safe personal precautions. Do you think I’m catering to the fear rather than the reality? I don’t think so, but it’s important to maintain a healthy frame of mind on the subject, and not get nutsy and start ordering haz mat suits for all seasons.

The news media keep us well informed of the crud we encounter just by getting out of bed in the morning. If ever there was support for being a germaphobe this is the day and age to live in. God knows once we leave the sanctity of our homes, we are fair game for any living organism, good, bad or indifferent. According to some reports, simply going to a restaurant and picking up a menu is enough to land you in the hospital with intestinal distress.

Best-selling, scientific findings reported in the media never cease to inform us that airplane travel could be life threatening if we dare to touch the arm rest or tray table. The smallest bit of news about a rare bug found in the remote jungles of the Philippines that is certain to make its way to Los Angeles – some day – maybe – can make front page fodder on a slow news day.

So how seriously should we take the red flags of afflicting contagions that we are constantly being bombarded with? Well to be realistic, many of the germs that loom large in the minds of the media have been around since the dawn of time. Like E.coli. Certainly we have learned more about its devastating effects in recent years, but is it any more prevalent than it was even just a decade or a century or a millennium ago?

Today’s strain of E.coli might be very different due to its evolving sustainable nature, but most strains of the microbe do not cause disease. Even with that in mind, note that it is ubiquitous and can be transferred easily. Due to the massive, international transportation of people and goods the likelihood of coming into contact with E.coli can be pretty high. When the media warns against E.coli in a public place, like the arm rest on an airplane seat, they are peddling sensationalism rather than common sense precaution. Although traces of E.coli are found on airplanes, if there is ever a real threat, a plane for example, wouldn’t even make it to the tarmac.

So knowledge is power and being aware is important, but like most things erring on the side of caution is relative to the situation. Taking an umbrella on an overcast morning is good reasoning. Not leaving the house on same said morning for fear of getting struck by lightening is over the top. Listening to the news reports about what to be careful of and letting these reports hem in your experiences should be treated as vastly different concerns. Stay aware, but not paranoid. Strive for a healthy, well informed balanced agenda.

Taking precautions without the psychosis is a true aim of healthy living. Building a strong immune system through diet and exercise, along with being well informed will generally get you safely where you need to go. Reading articles printed in ict-science-to-society is one way to stay on the inside track and not go overboard.

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