Germs, Bacteria, Fungi: What’s Hiding in Your Keyboard?

How disgusting and germ-ridden is the keyboard you are sitting behind right now?  Chances are, it’s pretty disgusting.  From a young age we learn about bacteria and the importance of washing our hands and keeping things clean, but as we grow older we sometimes take for granted that things might not be as clean as they should be.

Students in the medical assistant program at Globe University-Madison East recently visited Ms. Sutter’s first grade classroom at Taylor Prairie Elementary School in Cottage Grove, Wis., to share information about germs, how they are transmitted and how to prevent spreading them.

medical assistant program

Medical assistant students Chris Naputi, Jackie Holland, and Julianne Lueck teach the first graders about bacteria and germs.

While visiting, the medical assistant students worked with teams of first-grade students to identify surfaces they thought might have germs on them. Such surfaces included doorknobs, fingernails, sink handles, rugs, and the teacher’s keyboard. They swabbed each surface and culture onto petri dishes containing agar (contains nutrients required to grow bacteria/fungi). Then they cleaned the surface with an antibacterial wipe and swabbed again to culture.

They allowed the bacteria/fungi to grow for five days and then returned the following Monday to show the first graders the results. The young students saw which surfaces grew microbes and which did not.  They also found out if cleaning the surfaces got rid of the microbes.

Medical assistant student Julianne Lueck said, “The kids had a lot of fun picking out where we were going to swab, and the place that grew the most bacteria was the teacher’s keyboard, which was a big surprise for everyone—the teacher included!”

“The service learning project was fun and successful,” said medical assistant instructor Michelle Cotroneo. “The students gained experience in communicating with children, a skill that may be required in their future jobs as medical assistants. The students learned that bacteria and fungi are present on surfaces that we use daily; working with the kids created a fun, relaxed environment that facilitated learning.”

medical assistant, bacteria

Medical assistant student Julianne Lueck oversees her team as they swab their teacher’s keyboard.

Are you ready to get out your antibacterial wipes and clean off that keyboard?  If you want to keep yourself and those around you from getting sick, start cleaning those surfaces on a daily basis.