Are there dangers in using an uncovered public toilet seat?

This is from an advice column at MIT, and quotes a doctor there (not a prof there, just a doc in Student Health): “”It’s very difficult to get sick from a toilet seat,” Heller says adamantly. “This is especially true for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs),” he adds. (Hmmm… apparently, there’s a reason they’re referred to as sexually transmitted.) However, Heller notes, “a little extra caution might be warranted if one is traveling in an area where enteric infections like cholera are more common.”

But for most diseases, Heller continues, “toilet seat transmission” would require the unlikely coincidence of two factors: 1) the presence of a sufficient number of germs to cause illness, and 2) a way for those germs on the seat to get into your urethra, genital tract, or blood stream. Interestingly enough, the first condition may be even more unlikely than the second. Microbiologists studying bacterial concentrations in offices found, in every case, that toilet seats were, by far, the cleanest surfaces of any sampled-a whopping 50 times cleaner than phone receivers, which were the filthiest. (High germ counts were also found on office desktops, the computer keyboard, and the mouse.) “

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