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Germy Fabrics

September 24, 2013

Objects like blankets and stuffed animals can theoretically spread illnesses, but it’s not a big concern.



Are toddlers’ lovies unsanitary? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

(Jupiter Images)

A listener emailed us to ask about her granddaughter, who has hand, foot, and mouth disease. She wants to know if the girl’s stuffed animals and blankets could spread the illness. We asked William Schaffner, chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University.

WILLIAM SCHAFFNER (Vanderbilt University School of Medicine):
Yes, it can get out into the environment, but it’s thought that the environment, particularly fabric, plays a minimal role in transmission of the virus – my recommendation is not to worry.


In fact, he says most viruses – including flu, for example – die quickly on inanimate objects. And even bacteria that can persist on surfaces, like strep, rarely seem to infect people by that route. In this case, he says direct contact with the child is overwhelmingly more infectious than contact with her stuffed animal friends. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.