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Trying To Avoid The Flu? It's More Than Just Washing Your Hands

STUDIO CITY (CBSLA)  --  This year's flu is on the rise, and emergency rooms are filled with people coughing and sneezing with various body aches.

Doctors say they are seeing a record number of patients. Trying hard not to become one of them?

CBS2's Jo Kwon said the answer may be right at your fingertips.

The gym might be the place to get in shape, but it's also a good place for germs to hang out.

"Germs are like everywhere, but in particular gyms are like notorious for you know, having germs," says Mark Gontar, and he should know. He's owner of a gym in Manhattan Beach.

Health experts say gym equipment is one thing to avoid touching during flu season.

"I'm not surprised by it," Gontar says.

That's why he keeps wipes readily available.

"Yeah, I am a little bit of a germophobe, I guess." Some studies say germs can stick to some equipment even after being wiped down.

Another thing to avoid? Salt and pepper shakers on the restaurant table.

"It makes sense because they're sitting there all day," said Kyle Bittman about to have brunch in Redondo Beach.

A study out of the University of Virginia found that 30 people who reported symptoms of cold and flu had touched shakers -- all tested positive for rhinovirus.

"I's a little scary to think about," Bittman said.

Another item to avoid -- something you have probably picked up at work. The communal coffee pot. And don't leave out the old water cooler.

A microbiologist at the University of Arizona found germs find their way to as much of 60 percent of common areas in places like offices in just a few hours.

"It's not a big surprise to me," says germ and cleaning expert Chris Wegner.

Another area to avoid might be very surprising.

"Soap dispensers, pump dispensers. "

Say what now?

"After they're using the restroom, they're washing their hands, when they're pumping the soap dispenser they're contaminating the soap dispenser," Wegner says.

This is what he recommends.

"I grab a paper towel first, and then I use that on a pump dispenser."

He also says to be sure to use warm water.

Bittman has another plan to avoid germs.

"I try to take my vitamin C pretty regularly," he said.


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