According to this article, not all germs are bad:
http://www.netplaces.com/healthy-home-g … re-bad.htm
Also, many bacteria have co-evolved with humans to form a simbiotic relationship with our bodies (think of the mitochrondria in every cell that aids in aerobic metabolic processes and the bacteria that line our GI tract that help digestion).
Here is an easy-to-follow decision tree about when to eat food after you've dropped it on the ground:
http://blogs.sfweekly.com/foodie/2010/0 … _floor.php
Scientists have actually shown that ingesting more germs can help your immune system ward off infections. This knowledge is the basis for all vaccinations and flu shots. If you didn't know, these are harmless doses of the virus that will allow your body to develop the defense mechanisms needed in the potential future.
I was going to say almost the same thing as Jay. I do notice many of my co-workers seem to be highly germaphobic; especially during flu season. Sure, it's good to be a little more careful, but I don't wash my hands a dozen or more times a day and I rarely get sick. I do believe we need some of those germs to build our immune system. Think about it - that's what a flu vaccine does. They inject a live virus into you and your body builds the immunity while fighting off the "baby" infection.
I think we Americans are conscious of staying clean to avoid getting sick. That doesn't mean we are "obsessed." However, mental illness is pervading our society as well on a large scale, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is running rampant (amongst other illnesses).
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