Crossposting this from the microBEnet blog where I originally posted it 10/31/14:
It seems that any time a holiday comes around in the US, the press starts to ramp up the writing of stories about evil microbes that are lurking all around us. And Halloween appears to be no exception. I am now planning on referring to this attitude as “microbophobia” rather than “germophobia” because to some “germ” implies pathogen and many of these stories fan the flames of fear about any kind of microbe not just pathogens. I note – the term microbophobia comes from some searches I did recently of Google books.
I was thinking of writing up yet another post trying to counter this excessive microbophobia but decided instead to just provide a collection of links to stories over the last month that have a distinctive microbophobia flavor. Mind you – there are real reasons to be afraid of some of the microbes circulating around these days. But the links below seem to me to be serious overkill.
- KFOX 10/31/14: Special Assignment: How dirty is your cellphone?
- KENS 10/31/14: The most germ-laden thing in your home
- KFVS 10/30/14: Dirty candy: Trick-or-treating for candy or germs?
- KCCI Des Moines 10/30/14 Grinnell Regional Medical Center is using a robot to help fight infectious diseases like Ebola.
- Headlines and Global News 10/29/14: Germ-Free Homes: It’s Possible, Even in the Wintertime
- Fox17 10/29/14 What part of your home is crawling with the most germs?
- Your Houston News 10/29/14: HAPPY HANDYMAN: Killing germs, bacteria much faster with Quick Clean Disinfectant
- Fox2Now 10/28/14: Blues bacterial infections, Halloween germs
- Cars.Com 10/28/14: With Flu Season Nearing Keep Germs at Bay in Car
- The Daily Telegraph: 10/28/14 Our filthy hospitals
- Bellingham Herald 10/27/14 Q&A: There are germs among us, and you can’t be too safe
- Dothan Eagle 10/26/114 Scrubs will combat spread of germs
- Lifehacker 10/25/14: The Most Germ-Infested Item in the Office Might Be the Coffee Pot
- Shape Magazine 10/24/14: Confessions of A Germophobe
- Huffington Post: 10/17/14: This Terrifying Video Shows How Quickly Toilet Germs Spread To Your Mouth
- Daily Mail 10/14/14: How to Stay as Germ Free as Possible in the Toilets
- KLTV 10/10/14: Halloween Costume Shopping Brings Concern for Germs
- PSFK: Protective Transit Jacket for Germ-Free Commuting
- Wall Street Journal 10/1/14 Germs at the Office Are Often Found on Keyboards and at Coffee Stations
These are but a few of the many examples of microbophobia being pushed by the press. Again, there are certainly things to worry about in terms of pathogens in our immediate environment. Flu season is coming. Enterovirus might be on the upswing. Antibiotic resistance is a massive and troubling problem. And so on. But please let us not go completely over the top because the more we promote the idea that we should be killing all microbes, the more trouble we are likely to cause, rather than prevent.