Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Hotels host viruses too

I've just returned from an eating tour of Philadelphia. Well nominally it was billed as a visit with my daughter, but we ate our way through the best of Philly, including too-die-for cupcakes from a hole in the wall cafe.

The only meal that fell far short of satisfactory was the room service breakfast at the Hilton. Rubbery omelettes arriving way late with a side of soggy toast. And now late breaking news from the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy suggests that these unappetizing memories may not be all I take from this hotel.

Researchers from Virginia checked out residual rhinoviruses left by volunteers with colds after they sniffled their way through a free night in a hotel. The investigators found that telephones, TV remotes, light switches, and other objects tested positive for cold viruses as much as a day after the infectious subjects left the room.

Dr. Owen Hendley remarked "They left a very interesting room for whoever came after them." Remember, however, contaminated fingertips are only the first step to getting a cold. The next step, fingers to nose or to eyes, is your choice. Keep your hands off your face in hotel rooms, even if the food makes you weep.

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