News reports recently featured a certain Mexican restaurant that had to close down several stores after their food had sickened at least 58 people across 12 states. The customers were sickened by E. coli. 
Do you know where E. coli comes from? Feces. Yup. Think about that for a moment. We’re here today to warn you about the poopiest public places to avoid, and when to exercise caution, so you can stay well.


that normally live in the intestines of people and animals. When in the intestines – it is a good thing! When ingested however, it can cause a serious intestinal infection. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever. In severe instances, or for those with compromised immune systems, it can lead to bloody diarrhea, dehydration, or even kidney failure. In some instances, it can lead to death.

If we can assume that hygiene practices improve with aging, we can also assume that places with an abundance of children are also the places where the highest risk of obtaining an E. coli infection can occur.

  • Public pools. According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, a water park crawling with 1,000 kids can have 22 pounds of poop floating around. Little kids can carry as much as 10 grams of leftover feces, which they don’t wash off before jumping in the pool. It adds up and chlorine doesn’t kill everything. The CDC found that more than half of pools test positive for E. coli, which can cause bloody diarrhea. Our best advice is to try not to swallow any water and prevent illness for everyone by making sure your kids shower before getting in the pool.
  • School water fountains. Placed strategically near the bathrooms, the water fountains are seldom cleaned. Skip the water fountain and drink from a water bottle.
  • Playgrounds. Like the water fountains, playgrounds are rarely (if ever) cleaned. The worst spot is the sandbox, with 36 times more germs than a restaurant tray. The best defense for parents is to warn your kids about putting their hands in their mouths, and wipe down their hands with a hand sanitizer and wipes.
  • Grocery store cart. Do you let your kids push the cart because it’s fun? It’s also a germ haven for E. coli and other germs. That shopping cart handle can be swarming with up to 11 million microorganisms, including ones from raw meat. And just think about all the dirty diapers on that seat -- the same one where you put your produce. If your grocery store has antibacterial wipes, use them.


    We hate sharing this list with you – but it’s for your own good.
      • ATM machines. Like those water fountains, the buttons are rarely if ever cleaned. Push the buttons with a pen, or a gloved finger.
      • Elevator buttons. Have you ever seen one being cleaned? Neither have we! Follow the ATM machine advice and use a pen, or gloved hand or your elbow.
      • Bathroom soap dispensers. The device designed to help you out can also be the one that transmits fecal matter. If you do use the soap dispenser (which we recommend) make sure you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. And open the door with your elbow, foot or anything other than your hand. Many people don’t wash after using the restroom. The CDC says only 31% of men and 65% of women do.
      • Hotel remote TV devices. It’s the same old story – these don’t get wiped down. If you carry your own sanitizer wipes, this is a good place to use one. Other potential petri dishes include the bedside lamp switch, bedspread, hair dryer, telephone and unwrapped drinking glasses.
      • Restaurant menus. Restaurant menus have 100 times more bacteria than a toilet seat, says Charles Gerba, Ph.D., a microbiologist with the University of Arizona. And how many times have you seen someone go to the restroom and then come back to order their meal? It is better to do it in the other order. Menus are rarely cleaned and when they are, it’s often with a well-used rag.
      • Money. Did you know that a flu virus can live on money for up to 17 days? When was the last time you saw someone handle money with gloves on? Our advice is to wash your hands after counting the millions you won at Powerball.


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