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Bacteria hot spots to avoid in hotels

Monday - 6/18/2012, 11:31am  ET

WASHINGTON - First there was the bed bug scare in hotels. Now, it's bacteria and germs that live in plain sight. Next time you check in for that vacation, think twice about the things you touch.

A University of Houston led study swabbed, tested and examined germs in nine hotel rooms in three states. Researchers found that just because it looks clean, that doesn't mean it is clean.

"A visual assessment can't tell you about bacteria and viruses," Katie Kirsch, a University of Houston researcher, told MSNBC. "It can tell you what's on the surface, but not if it's been disinfected."

Top bacteria hot spots are bathroom sinks and floors, light switches and TV remotes. Telephone keypads also contained high bacteria count.

Researchers didn't stop there. They swabbed materials used by cleaning crews like mops and sponges, which were teeming with bacteria.

Kirsch said her study is meant more for the hotel industry. She hopes it will adopt higher standards of sanitation, like those used in food and healthcare.

"The study is aimed more toward the housekeeping managers," she said.

The message seems to have reached at least some hotel operators, according to MSNBC. Best Western is rolling out a new program that will use cleaning technology - like UV and black wands - to inspect for germs. They are also offering wraps for remote controls, pillows and blankets.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)