It's best to avoid any and all germ vectors like the plague

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By Laura Lewis, Reporter

As I sat Tuesday at another fabulous annual retreat of Sunset Beach Town Council, I pondered how much things have changed in just a year’s time.

This time last year, I was posted next to a box of free-flowing Kleenex, having been finally taken down by some kind of terrible February bug after six years of relative virus- and bacteria-free health.

I was really ticked, because this thing seemed to have come from nowhere—some unknown, invisible place (isn’t that where colds usually originate?)—and it had messed up my health record.

I would’ve preferred to have crawled back under the covers and kept my illness-fated self at home, preferably for at least a week.

But I had work to do, especially on deadline Tuesday, coupled with a daylong agenda of Sunset Beach town business.

Sunset Beach Town Council and staff were wise to avoid me even more than usual.

I think they were trying to, as much as anyone could with someone constantly sniffling over in the corner.

But this year, so far, as best I can tell as I write this, I was cold-free and raring to get to Sea Trail and comb through that retreat agenda. I think I’ll be fine, unless others there aren’t feeling so well or the meeting makes someone sick.

What’s the difference this time, you may or may not be asking.

My best answer is, I don’t know, but perhaps regular hand-washing and those little bottles of hand sanitizer I carry around and sometimes remember to use.

Also, credit must be paid to television—Dr. Oz and his array of immunity-boosting tips, including but not limited to recognition of National Handwashing Awareness Week (it was in December, but we can and should celebrate it every month).

Thanks to a recent segment on “The Rachael Ray Show,” titled “The Germiest Places in Your Life,” I’ve also become a proud germophobe.

According to regular Ray consultant Dr. Ian Smith, those top petri-dish places include ATM machines, cell phones, shoes, doctors’ offices and hospitals.

He said he uses a pen or his shirt to punch ATM buttons because he doesn’t want to touch them. He recommends wiping down cell phones on a regular basis.

Smith also doesn’t understand people who walk around their houses in their nasty-soled shoes that have been everywhere. “Whether in the country or the city, you are tracking so much gunk into your house,” he says.

Just think about it—yuck.

The solution? “Leave ’em at the door,” he says. “At my house, I don’t care who you are. You leave your shoes at the door.”

Every shoeless guest entering his domain is issued a pair of socks—clean ones, I assume.

Now that these things have made me more conscious of my shoes and wiping down everything, including my laptop computer keyboard, I was ready to cover this year’s retreat.

Settling into my seat in the retreat meeting room, at precisely 8:51 a.m., I sneezed.

Maybe I’m just allergic.


Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.