West Australians should include sterilisation of their mobile phones as part of their winter flu regime, the Australian Medical Association (WA) said in a recent statement.
"The winter flu season is just starting and people should remember the check list of ways to prevent catching or passing on the flu, AMA (WA) President Dr Michael Gannon said.
Recent data from the WA Health Department shows the flu season is just beginning, Dr Gannon said, and there are a number of ways that people can help ensure they do not catch or pass on a bug, including keeping their phones clean.
Mobile phones "petri dishes for disease, germs"
"Mobile phones are one of our most used personal items and have become petri dishes for disease and germs," Dr Gannon said.
"We have to remember that we take our mobile phones everywhere – from our beds to our kitchens, to work and to the toilet.
"Studies have shown that mobile phones are dirtier than toilet seats, and are one the dirtiest things we come in contact with on a daily basis.
"We pass our phones around to our children, our friends and work colleagues and our germs can soon become their diseases."
Recent university studies have shown that one in six mobile phones has traces of E. Coli bacteria from faecal matter.
Dr Gannon said the best way to keep a phone germ-free is to use anti-bacterial screen wipes every few weeks or to roll your mobile phone in your hands after using hand sanitiser.
Flu prevention tips
Other winter flu tips to prevent the spread of influenza include:
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and always aim into the crook of your elbow
- Use disposable tissues to blow your nose and never reuse
- Regularly clean your hands with soap and water or using hand sanitisers
- Do not share personal items such as drink bottles, cutlery, crockery and towels
- Avoid crowded public places if you are unwell
- Do not send children who are ill to school and daycare centres
- Stay home from work if you are unwell
The flu and its impact on health, especially on the elderly, usually kills around 2800 Australians every year – more than the national road toll, Dr Gannon said.
"We urge all West Australians, particularly those in high risk groups, to be proactive this flu season and get their flu shots when possible," he said.