Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Beware the dreaded keyboards

Can you picture the scene? It is a big budget musical and everyone is happy and a character in the mould of Tommy Steele is shaking everyone's hand. Now think of Howard Hughes who had an obsessive-compulsive disorder. He would use tissues to pick things up so that he wouldn't catch germs. Howard's actions don't sound too sensible but if you follow the adverts and want to kill 99% of household germs then maybe these germs are things to avoid (even if tissues aren't the best method of containing them). Maybe that star of the musical should avoid shaking those hands on stage.

Today's news was that research has shown that if you share a desk then you should use "clean wipes" because poor hygiene is making us ill. The advice is to clean the keyboard "every now and again" to make sure that the previous user hasn't left their nasty bacteria on it. The study didn't even look at viruses even though I thought a virus could only live inside a living cell. If things are really this bad then "every now and again" should mean "every time another person uses the keyboard - even if they only use it for a second".

Maybe Howard was right after all, but I know that I would prefer to be in the musical rather than helping Howard buy his tissues. Which are the best "clean wipes"? The ones that kill bacteria or viruses or the ones that kill the 1% left by the other wipes? We didn't even have wipes like this a few years ago and now they must be a really big business. My guess is that worry about hygiene is a bigger cause of sickness than bacteria passed on by poor hygiene on keyboards.

Change the world


  1. How true.
    Remember when being allowed to scrape the bowl out after baking was a treat, and nowadays you aren't supposed to do it, because you "might" get salmonella.

  2. I remember the outbreak of botulism in the late eighties. Does anyone still eat hazelnut yoghurt?

  3. News today is that work related stress is the number one cause of long-term absence. We could be more efficient because we scrape the bowl out and we could lower sickness. All we need to do is stop the research and its associated costs and we have a win-win-win situation.