According to Julian's study, published online in July by the Journal of Applied Microbiology, the risks of transmitting pathogens from glass surfaces to a person's skin are relatively high.
"If you put virus on a surface, like an iPhone, about 30 percent of it will get on your fingertips," Julian said. In turn, "a fair amount of it may go from your fingers to your eyes, mouth or nose," the most likely routes of infection.
Of course, no one can be sure how many people have gotten sick from sharing touch-screen electronics. But the devices add to the growing list of so-called fomites – frequently handled objects – that can spread pathogens such as the flu virus.
Handrails, elevator buttons, computer keyboards, automatic teller machines – remember Mom's advice about dirty money – certainly all have the potential of spreading disease.