Feeling a little under-the-weather at work today? Feel a tummy ache coming along? It could be QWERTY Tummy, a very fake term for the very real threat of an upset stomach that comes from touching filthy keyboards. Here's how one London office discovered what might be living on your home office keyboard, and how to stop it from getting you sick.
A consumer group in London coined the term "QWERTY Tummy" after noticing that many members of its own staff were coming down with variations of a stomach bug. Following a surprisingly astute hypothesis, they had each of the keyboards in the office tested for bacteria.
Scientists swabbed 33 keyboards, finding that four of them carried major health hazards. Two had warning levels of staphylococcus aureus and two others had worryingly elevated levels of coliforms and enterobacteria. You don't have to be a biologist to guess that those are bad news. Coming into contact with keyboards harboring those harmful bacteria could potentially give you an upset stomach or diarrhea.
And why were all those bacteria making themselves at home between the QWERTY keys? Mainly it's because folks were eating lunch at their desks. Crummy food deposits and grimey fingers encourage the growth of millions of bacteria.
So how can you avoid coming down with QWERTY Tummy?
- Don't eat at your desk. Or if you just have to eat at your desk, invest in a keyboard cover, like these good-looking silicone ones or the ever-popular keyboard napkin.
- Wash your hands. Before lunch, after lunch, during lunch—be liberal with your hand washing while you're figuratively glued to your computer keys.
- Clean your keyboard often. Wiping down your 'board at the end of each workday with a paper towel and some hand sanitizer will do wonders for preventing the growth of QWERTY-Tummy-causing bacteria.
(Images: Flickr member Dirk Gently licensed for use under Creative Commons, If You Only Knew What Was Living On Your Gadgets..., No More Crumbs with the Keyboard Napkin)