Editor's note: This popular story from the Daily Briefing's archives was republished on Dec. 10, 2018.
As the United States deals with a particularly severe flu season, CBS News asked a geneticist to identify the four most germ-ridden spaces in the average office.
To identify general germ hot spots, Chris Mason, a geneticist at Weill Cornell Medicine, used a method called shotgun sequencing to test various workplace areas and surfaces to determine where viruses and bacteria might lurk. According to Mason, germs are most likely to congregate in "high touch" areas, such as door handles, the sink in the kitchen area, or on elevator buttons. (And according to the CDC, influenza germs can live on some surfaces for up to a day, which means that if you touch a contaminated surface and then touch your eyes, mouth, or nose within that timeframe, you risk catching the virus.)
For the test, Mason and CBS News focused on two common work areas—the break room and the conference room—as well as two common workplace items—stairwell railings and computer keyboards. They then ranked them in order of germ-contamination, based on a lab analysis.
Although none of the areas tested had the flu virus, they did host a swarm of other germs and bacteria, CBS News reports.
According to CBS News, the most contaminated areas ranked by contamination levels were:
Download this infographic to learn about both the obvious and less obvious locations where germs on planes are rampant.
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