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Public Health/survival of germs on utensils


hello doctor,
i want to know how long germs can survive on stainless steel utensils used for cooking and for eating/drinking, and what is the health risk from this.
at my home to wash the utensils people have hired a maid whose personal hygiene seems questionable.
looks like i dont have much say in this decision.
i wanted to know what is the risk regarding using these utensils for cooking or eating/drinking.

I am not a physician and do not have a terminal degree (PhD or other).

How long something can live on a given surface, stainless in this case, depends on what it is.  Some have dormant states too, that let them survive until their environment favors growth and reproduction.

Generally speaking, the primary route of infection is oral, followed by inhalation.  Maintaining personal hygiene is most important for food handlers.  This means keeping hands clean.  In my personal opinion, I'm not sure the use of gloves does much to prevent spread.  If you cough into a glove and don't change the glove its not much different from coughing into your hand and not washing.

You didn't mention your relationship to the person whose habits concern you, so I've assumed it may be possible for you to talk to the person.  Sometimes people do what they do because they don't know there's another way.  Given each of us is susceptible to nearly the same bugs, behavior that helps the maid stay healthy are the same that keep you healthy.  If you're able to approach the subject from the other person's viewpoint, with respect, you may be as effective as you'd like to be.

If nobody is getting ill then its also possible you're more sensitive towards the maid's habits, then is necessary.

Utensils that appear clean can transmit bugs -- studies have shown a doctor's stethoscope may harbor undesireables but this doesn't mean the doctor is getting their patients sick.

Hope this is useful.  

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John Crout


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Clinical drug trials, patient utilization analysis in managed care

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