Irene Chansawang washes her hands 20 times a day. She doesn't get manicures or pedicures because she thinks nail salons are too dirty. She wouldn't dream of getting into the shower at the gym without wearing flip-flops, and keeps antibacterial wipes in her desk drawer.
"I wish it was a cultural norm in this country to wear those SARS masks when you're sick," says the self-professed germophobe.
In fact, all of us are like petri dishes: If you looked at your skin under a microscope, you would see it teeming with bacteria. But some scientists are suggesting that instead of running for the hand sanitizer, we should be grateful for the bugs -- some of them may be keeping us healthy.
The common wisdom is that the only good bug is a dead bug -- and in an age of flus like H1N1, it's no surprise. Every subway pole, doorknob, or coughing coworker could be a source of life-threatening illness. Physicians say a little common sense is still the best strategy to ward off colds and flu.
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