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Self Service Is Booming,

and So Are the Germs

Facts You Should Know

"ATMs are hotbeds for germs and viruses," says Jock Lawrason, MD, pulmonary medicine physician at Nantucket Cottage Hospital in Massachusetts. Watch a popular ATM for 15 minutes, and you'll see the number of people who touch the buttons. If any of those people were recently ill, they can pass on their germs for cold and flu for weeks afterward. 'The influenza virus, for example, can stay on an inanimate object for one to two days, and strep pneumonia can last anywhere from two to three and a half weeks,' Dr. Lawrason says. 'The longer objects are touched without being washed, the higher the risk of someone getting sick,' he said. But you can take some precautions. . . ."

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