How to Avoid Catching the Flu from Your Mobile Phone

As you might already know (or have experienced firsthand), the flu bug is going around something nasty this year. And, unfortunately, smartphones don’t help the situation much. After all, think about how much you use yours, then think about how many other things your hands touch throughout the day. That little brick in your pocket is probably a scummier vector for disease than the neighbor kid who seems like he spends his time rolling around in dirt all day. Your smartphone is probably awash in viruses and bacteria, and then you put it to your face. Have fun with that image for the rest of the day.

Point is, smartphones can help pass the flu on from flu-having people to you without you even realizing it. Fortunately, AT&T’s Chief Medical Information Officer (who knew they had one of those?), Dr. Geeta Nayyar, has created a handy checklist for you to follow to make sure that your smartphone stays healthy and virus-free. The good doctor kicks off with the obvious general advice – get a flu shot, avoid sick people, and wash your hands frequently. Those who have already been infected are encouraged to hole up at home for a while until things clear up.

  1. Consider getting a flu shot. If you are sick and experiencing flu symptoms, do not share your phone and stay home to avoid infecting others. Keep your germs to yourself.
  2. Avoid sick people.  If you share your phone with friends or family be careful, you may be sharing more than just your phone, you may be spreading a virus!
  3. Wash your hands frequently. Sing a verse from a familiar song (e.g., “Happy Birthday”) while lathering and rinsing. Don’t rush. If soap and water are not available to wash hands then use disinfectant like hand sanitizer.
  4. Wash your phone!  If you think it has been contaminated, disinfect your phone. Use a wrung-out disinfectant wipe or spray a paper towel with disinfectant. Don’t spray the phone. (Remember that washing your hands and then touching a dirty phone or keypad is self limiting).
  5. Try using a Bluetooth device or other hands-free headset, minimizing your keypad-to-face exposure
  6. Don’t – please don’t – use your phone in a restroom.  Some things can wait!

The above smartphone advice is also laden with common sense. Wiping down your phone with disinfectant every so often is probably a rock-solid strategy. You can use Bluetooth headsets to avoid putting phone to face for extra protection. Then, there’s the final, and maybe most common sensical piece of advice in the whole list – phones and bathrooms do not mix. Maybe keep the smartphone tucked away while you’re handling business in there.

Here’s hoping everyone stays healthy and plague-free. Make sure those smartphones are working for you, not against you.


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