Dirty devices: Your phone could be contaminated with the flu virus

SPOKANE, Wash.– Washing your hands isn’t the only way to help prevent the flu from spreading.

Think about all the germs that are likely on your phone if you don’t regularly disinfect it. A past study by the University of Arizona said cell phones can carry more bacteria than a toilet seat. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why your phone could be a factor in spreading the flu.

“It certainly could become a significant issue,” Spokane County Health District Epidemiologist Mark Springer said.

But it doesn’t have to be. Springer explained that most people already have the products at home or work to disinfect their phones and tablets.

“It’s something that is fairly easily inactivatable by common disinfectants, like what we’re using around the home, kitchen or office. It’s not that hardy of a virus,” Springer said.

Springer said while disinfecting your phone is a good step, the best way to protect yourself from the virus is to get vaccinated. At this point in the season, the flu has hospitalized more than 100 people and killed 4 in Spokane County, according to Springer.

A spokesperson for Providence Sacred Heart told 4 News Now that the emergency department may not be the best location to go if you believe you have the flu. The wait is often shorter and the bill is smaller if patients go to an Express Care or Urgent Care location.

The hospital also emphasized the importance of getting care soon. While products like Tamiflu can reduce the severity and shorten the duration of the flu, the treatments have to be administered within the first few days of experiencing symptoms, according to experts.

The best protection against the flu is a vaccine, according to the CDC.