..or is it a health hazard? So now that we have got your attention with the seductive featured image, (like all those annoying youtube thumbnails)… don’t worry, we think it may still be worth your while!

Have you ever noticed that David Letterman is a classic finger licker.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan, but I am always fascinated when he licks his fingers to grab his cue cards.  I suffer from an acute case of ‘spit-and-handshake-a-phobia’ and shudder to imagine shaking Letterman’s hand, or be the one who has to file his cue cards after the show. One might, in his defence, advocate that he may not have a contagious disease or carry lethal germs but one cannot rule out things like the common cold or flu bugs (they are everywhere).  It’s about personal hygiene practices, which are quite non-existent in todays society.  Of course one may not be privy to such personal questions so let’s leave Letterman alone for now and step into a public space. To the right we have the escalator hand rail that everyone has just touched.  To the left, we have a waiting taxi with a door handle that a few hundred people grabbed today.  Just because you can’t see the bugs does not mean that they are not there. You may be surprised to know that it’s been reported that faecal matter has been found  on those rails! – that will make you think the next time you extend your hand. You never really know what germs are on your hands. The reason behind why we have this bacterial infestation around us is part because of a lack of personal hygiene, part because of how great bacteria are at surviving and reproducing, and part is because you get half-baked ideas like automatically disinfecting escalator rails, that gets no attention.

The transmission of diseases through physical contact has been around for centuries.  Our immune systems have mutated, and the improvement of personal hygiene along medicinal breakthroughs, results in diminished immune system ability. As the body sees it, there is no need to build up a defence system if there is no threat.  By way of example, agencies that regularly advertise to raise funds for the poor in destitute countries design their adverts to show you the snotty noses of babies and children and flies that never cease to exit their faces and their timing to flight these advertisements just when you are preparing to have your dinner is impeccable.  Yet these children are not dropping dead despite all the germs and diseases that they are enveloped by. Lack of access to food and shelter and drinking water is probably what eventually kills them.  Their immune systems have been actively building up their immunity against all kinds of diseases. Children raised in western hygienic conditions will be annihilated in seconds if exposed to similar conditions. They say that an urban dog drinking the water from the same well as a Bedouin would drop dead in seconds.

Times have changed significantly and modernisation has become counterproductive in some respects when it comes to fighting diseases and building immunity. But people still lick their fingers in supermarkets to separate plastic bags, to count bank notes and to separate cue cards. Do all merchandisers wash their hands after visiting the bathroom or do restaurant operatives practice safe hygiene habits when handling food? How good are health and safety standards by public service providers? The world is changing fast and safety practices need to stay abreast. We don’t really know what is going on behind those closed doors.

The trick is to find ways to increase awareness and safeguard yourself by minimising physical contact where possible; be vigilant – avoid shaking hands and then touching your face, for example. Sheldon (from the Big Bang Theory) is not so paranoid after all.  It’s real, it impacts all of us and it can be deadly. So wash your hands and hope the person bringing your food to the table has done so too.

Do you have any hygiene tips and tricks to share? We would love to hear from you. Drop us a comment below. 

Image Credits: bibacomua/BigStock.com