Beware of the Bacteria Lurking on Your Smartwatch or Fitness Tracker

Beware of the Bacteria Lurking on Your Smartwatch or Fitness Tracker_a man's hand wearing a smartwatch

You may think your smart­watch or fit­ness track­er is a harm­less gad­get that helps you mon­i­tor your health and activ­i­ty, but a new study reveals a shock­ing truth: these devices are crawl­ing with harm­ful bac­te­ria that can make you sick or even kill you. 

Researchers who test­ed var­i­ous wear­able tech devices, such as Apple Watch­es, Fit­bits and oth­ers, found that 95% of them were infest­ed with dan­ger­ous germs, such as E. coli, Staph and Pseudomonas, that thrive in the moist envi­ron­ment and can cause seri­ous infections.

The devices were so dirty that they had an aver­age of 30,000 bac­te­ria per square cm — much more than the amount that can cause ill­ness. The type of mate­r­i­al did not mat­ter much, although cloth and porous plas­tics were more favor­able for bac­te­ria growth than gold and silver. 

The devices worn by fit­ness enthu­si­asts were the most con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed, as sweat and dirt pro­vid­ed ide­al con­di­tions for bac­te­ria. The study also warned that peo­ple with weak immune sys­tems and health care work­ers were at high­er risk of get­ting infect­ed by these germs.

The good news is that there are sim­ple ways to clean your devices and pro­tect your­self from these bac­te­ria. The study rec­om­mend­ed using Lysol, 70% alco­hol or vine­gar to dis­in­fect your devices reg­u­lar­ly. How­ev­er, many peo­ple are not aware of the hid­den dan­ger that these devices pose and do not clean them often enough. 

The study also sug­gest­ed that oth­er items, such as phones and head­phones, should be test­ed for bac­te­ria as well. The study urged peo­ple to be more aware of the hygiene of their devices and to adopt clean habits to pre­vent infec­tions and outbreaks.

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