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Germ patrol: Where germs are lurking in schools

Elaina is a Phoenix-based freelance writer, blogger and co-founder of the Kidlee baby book app. Check out her blog, Fun Finds For Mom, for product reviews, recipes and fun activities for moms and kids.

Bacteria in the cafeteria

Grab the disinfecting wipes. You'll want to do some serious sanitizing after reading this article. In 2010, scientists from the University of Arizona swabbed six K-12 schools to find out where the germs were congregating. The most contaminated area? The cafeteria. Here, we share the other top spots germs are found in schools, plus tips on how to keep your little scholars clean and healthy.

kids in cafeteria line

TIP: Talk to the school and raise your concern about cafeteria cleanliness. Find out if there are any procedures they can implement to better disinfect eating surfaces.

Cafeteria contamination

The germiest place found by the University of Arizona study, led by Dr. Charles Gerba, was none other than the very place where school kids eat — the school cafeteria. Yes, kids are eating off surfaces infested with heterotrophic bacteria and coliforms (microbes found in the intestines of humans and other animals). Yummy.

TIP: Send in a case of Clorox Disinfecting Wipes for your child's teacher. Teachers can use these to disinfect desks, headphones, computer keyboards and mouses and other germ-ridden surfaces throughout the day.

Computer viruses

When you hear the term "computer virus," you're probably not thinking about the microscopic bugs crawling around the laptop — or more specifically, on the computer mouse. When you think about it, it makes sense. Kids are using the same hand on the mouse that they use throughout the day to grab door handles, rub their noses, even wipe themselves. (We warned you this wasn't going to be pretty.) The computer mouse was crawling with twice as many germs as the desks analyzed in the study.

TIP: Teach kids to avoid touching bathroom surfaces. Show them how to flush with their shoe and turn off the faucet with their paper towel.

Bathroom bugs

You may have the best little hand washers in town. Despite their best efforts, they may be picking up viruses directly from the bathroom sink and paper towel handle — two of the most germ-infested spots in school.

TIP: Send your kids to school with their own reusable water bottles and encourage them to reach for their bottle when they're thirsty instead of heading to the water fountain.

BYOB

It's no surprise water fountains are swarming with bacteria. Some students think they need to make out with the faucet to quench their thirst. Ew.

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