What you should know about toilet seats and pigs

Was Mother right when she advised to never sit on a public toilet seat? Vancouver believed it had solved this ‘pottie’ fear by installing automated toilets. But they proved we still need to teach humans to behave as well as pigs.

“How well do you know Toronto,” I once asked a newcomer to the city. “Well,” she replied, “I now know the location of the pubic toilets.” This topic will not win the Noble Prize in Medicine, but it’s vital knowledge if you suffer from urinary or bowel problems.

Vancouver believed it had solved pottie paranoia by installing hi-tech potties. Touch a button and the door slides open, followed by voice instructions. Then, after each use, the facility is automatically cleaned and disinfected. In 2011 they were used by 177,000 people, but vandalized 856 times. Homo sapiens also flush blue jeans, sweaters and T-shirts down the toilet. Such human behaviour may force the city to close these facilities.

A farmer friend of mine is right. Pigs are cleaner than some humans, smart, make good pets, and never foul their environment. Sure, pigs roll in mud, but that’s to get rid of bacteria and funguses.

But is it reasonable to be pottie paranoid? If you have this worry you’re not alone. One survey showed that 30% of people ‘hold it’ rather than use a public toilet. Forty per cent flush the toilet with their feet and 60% hover over it.

Good sense obviously tells us that toilet seats are hardly the most hygienic areas. Moreover, scientific studies back up this concern. For instance, one report showed that 97% of seats harbour bacteria that cause boils, 81% harbour germs that cause diphtheria and hepatitis, 39% have bacteria that cause sore throats and 19% are infected with staphlococcus and salmonella bacteria associated with food poisoning.

But can toilet seats transmit venereal disease? It’s estimated that 20 million North Americans have genital herpes. For years it’s been believed that the virus could only be picked up by sexual contact.

But then Dr. Trudy Larsen, a researcher at the University of California, startled the scientific world. Her discovery will also not win the Noble Prize, but her simple experiment put to rest a common misconception.

Larsen took samples from genital herpes lesions and placed them on a toilet seat. She also asked a patient with an open active lesion to sit on the seat for a few seconds. Later that year, at a scientific meeting, she informed doctors that the herpes virus survived for at least four hours on the toilet seat.

To further prove her point Dr. Larsen took samples of the virus from 10 patients with active lesions. She then infected rubber gloves, instruments and dry gauze with the virus. They were all left in the open air and examined hours later.

The results were shocking. It was formerly believed that the virus died quickly when exposed to room air. But the live herpes virus could be cultivated from rubber gloves after an hour, on instruments after 18 hours and 72 hours later from dry gauze.

Another study at McGill University revealed that the Human Papilloma virus has been detected on toilet seats. This is the virus that causes genital warts and is also present in 90% of cervical cancer patients.

McGill researchers proved that an infected bottom isn’t the only way to infect seats. By placing dye in the toilet, and then flushing it, they found dye sprayed all over the seat. What goes in the bowl comes out of the bowl.

Another study showed that if men are standing at a urinal next to each other the spray can travel three feet. That’s also food for thought.

So Mother was right about the pottie. And one woman passed along this practical advice. She said, “With pantyhose at my knees I hover over the toilet, clutching my purse with my teeth, on high heels.” Cirque Soleil would be proud of her.

Now if we could only teach humans to behave like pigs.

Next week – the most important column I’ve ever written, a remedy to prevent heart attack.

See the web site at www.docgiff.com. For comments, info@docgiff.com.

Just Posted

Klaus testifies he falsely confessed to triple-homicide in Mr. Big sting

Klaus said confessions were made in order to further position within criminal organization

Red Deer River Naturalists host guest speaker

Bradley Peter will talk about new methods of lake monitoring

Superintendent Ken Foster sees progress in city policing

Red Deer RCMP Superintendent has been on the job for a year and has seen success

Accused Jason Klaus testifies in triple-homicide trial in Red Deer

Klaus charged with three counts of first-degree murder, one count of arson

WATCH: Red Deerians come together to ‘light the night’

Traditional Red Deer Lights the Night sees thousands

BC RCMP hunt for white SUV that rammed cruiser

Kamloops RCMP are looking for a white SUV headed north on the Yellowhead Highway

Canadian screen stars want ‘action’ from industry meeting on sexual misconduct

‘Of course there’s been sexual harassment here. Absolutely. No question.’

Opioid prescriptions up across Canada: report

The report shows the number of opioid prescriptions rose by almost seven per cent, while daily doses on average dropped

Russian meddling has implications for Canada

Kosovo president Hashim Thaci warns that Russian meddling has implications for Canada

Health Canada hints at government’s plans for legal pot

Health warnings, plain covers for pot packs under proposed regulations

Washington governor tells BC don’t be ‘daunted’ by Trump

“I want to assure this assembly that no matter who is in the White House, it won’t affect Washington state’s relationship with Canada or British Columbia.”

Feds plan to spend billions on housing strategy

However much of the $15.9 billion will not be spent until after the next election in 2019

David Cassidy, teen idol and ‘Partridge Family’ star, dies at 67

Cassidy announced earlier this year he had been diagnosed with dementia

Most Read