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Bioethics Director Recommends How We Should Address Subway Germs – and Fears

In The Huffington Post, Bioethics director Dr. Robert Klitzman explains why our germophobic fear of public transportation is somewhat misplaced: “The discovery that a wide range of germs lurk in the subway should motivate us to change our behavior. But not in the ways we may think.”

He explains that mere exposure to subway germs will not necessarily make a person sick. “Those who get sick vary in when and how severely they get ill. Many infectious diseases depend on the dose of germs, and the immune system of the host. That's why we are more likely to get infections when we are tired and rundown. Being exposed...to a tiny amount of a bacteria or virus will by no means get you sick.”

Klitzman underscores that we must also avoid spreading germs when we ourselves are sick. He admits that his doctorly advice hews to what we’ve been told by our grandparents: “Wash your hands before eating. If you feel sick with the flu, stay home, and drink fluids, rather than go out and infect others.” Both he and a subway public service announcement suggest, “Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.”

Klitzman writes, “The discovery of germs in the subway is important and should definitely alter our behavior. It should be a wake up call to how vulnerable we all are, and how careful we all should be with each other – in both directions.”

Read the rest of his article on The Huffington Post.