Seems like the more we learn about germs, the more keeping your hands washed seems like a really good idea.
A new study from researchers at the University of California at Irvine shows that germs can spread among athletes by taking a free ride on the ball as it is passed from player to player.
Researchers analyzed the germ threat by conducting experiments using volleyballs and basketballs. They thoroughly cleaned the ball and the hands of all the players except one. Then, after a normal game, they inspected the hands of everyone.
Guess what they found. Yep. Germs from the one player who didn’t wash his hands made it to the ball and then were spread around to the hands of the other players.
Researchers also learned that some types of germs can survive for up to 72 hours on a basketball or volleyball.
“Institutions, coaches, and athletes should take note of the role the sports ball can play as a vehicle for the transmission of potentially life-threatening germs,” said Joshua A. Cotter, who ran the study.
Good hand-washing is still the best defense against the spread of germs, so don’t be shy the next time you are walking by a sink.
And don’t be surprised if you start seeing more hand-sanitizing stations popping up at the gyms and parks where you play sports.