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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Special Edition: Enough to Make You Sick

Aired July 04, 2005 - 19:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. They're in your house. They're in your bed. They're germs and they're "Enough to Make You Sick". A special edition of 360 starts now. Hidden germs in your office. It's "Enough to Make You Sick". Your keyboard, your phone, even your desk are a breading ground for bacteria. Tonight, why your office may be dirtier than a bathroom toilet and what you can do to clean it up.
How clean is your ice? Before you reach for an ice cold drink, you might want to find out. Tonight, the shocking truth about what you may find frozen in your ice.

And you won't believe what's living in your mattress and your pillow. Tonight, the tiny creatures you're sleeping with and what you can do to get rid of them before they make you sick.

ANNOUNCER: From the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, this is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360.

COOPER: Welcome to this special edition of 360. And don't say we didn't warn you. This program may be just enough to make you downright sick. You can call us germophobes, if you want. Call us obsessive compulsive. But we decided to roll up our sleeves and find out how much filth and grime we surround ourselves with in the places we spend most of our time. We're talking about our homes, our offices, even our beds.

What we found, well, it was not pretty. In fact, it was downright gross. But it's fascinating and we think you're going to want to know how you can clean up your act.

We begin tonight with a look at something everyone enjoys, especially on these warm summer days. We're talking about the ice you have in your cup. What we found was enough to make you want to drink that soda lukewarm. Here's CNN's Heidi Collins.


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): It's cold, refreshing and oh-so good on a hot summer day. But did you ever think about what's in your ice?

JENNIFER BERG, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: Fecal matter in ice is a serious problem. COLLINS: Jennifer Berg is the head of the graduate department at the Food Science and Nutrition Program at New York University. She says ice can hold bacteria that makes you just as sick as anything else you eat.

BERG: Tainted ice is usually a result of having E. coli, fecal matter, inside the ice.

COLLINS: How worried should people be about something like this?

BERG: You know, we don't want to make the American public completely neurotic and so scared of our food supply, when in reality we have a safer food supply than most countries. But we do need to be careful.

COLLINS: Ice can become contaminated in many ways -- like micro organisms in the water supply. But according to the experts CNN consulted, the most common causes of ice contamination are poor handling and storage.

Take Denton, Texas, 1999. Fifty-eight members of a high school drill team were infected with various levels of gastrointestinal illnesses at a camp. The ice got contaminated with E. coli after campers used their bare hands to scoop eyes out of the machine. And recently, a British government study surveyed clubs, bars, and pubs in London and found half the ice they used was full of bugs and bacteria that can make people sick.

So that got us thinking. What would we find if we bought ice just like you would on any given day at any given restaurant across the country? We took our ice samples in Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, New York, and Los Angeles at a combination of fast food chains and local establishments in each town -- a total of 23 samples. In each location, we walked in and ordered our drinks with our ice on the side and then carefully, without touching the ice, poured it into sterile bag and then sent the samples off to a certified food laboratory, Microbac Laboratories in Warrendale, Pennsylvania.

Now, our study didn't follow all EPA protocols. That would mean we would have had to have gone to each restaurant four or five times, tested the city water, and then made sure that our sample ice touched nothing before it went into our sample bags. But our results were tested against the most basic EPA standards and what we found was disturbing.

In every city but one, there was a restaurant that failed those EPA standards. This McDonald's in Atlanta failed. This Dunkin' Donuts in Chicago, failed. This 7-Eleven in Dallas, failed. And so did this Burger King in Los Angeles. On the day we tested, according to Microbac Laboratories, each ice sample from these four establishments was contaminated with fecal matter.

That's disgusting.

BERG: It's so easy to spread. It's very easy to prevent. Very easy to prevent. It's a matter of washing in very warm water. Really washing. Not just the hands, but up until through the forearm with soap, very hot water, drying it off. Training the employees to all do that.

COLLINS: And the one city that got a clean bill of ice? Well, that surprised even us. When you think of New York, you think horribly, dirty city. But yet when we did our little ice samples, not a sing place failed. Why?

BERG: New York City has much more stringent laws and regulations in place inspecting food. The other thing is, in a city like New York, and if you're talking about the fast food places that you've looked at, they're very high volume. By the end of the evening, that ice machine has emptied out. They've completely depleted their supply.

COLLINS: We then contacted the establishments that failed our single test. In every case, after hearing the results of our tests, the owner/operators said they shut down their ice machine and cleaned them thoroughly and also retrained their employees. All four restaurants said they retested their ice after cleaning the machines and found no trace of bacteria.

7-Eleven sent us this. "The safety of 7-11 customers is of the utmost importance to us." And from Dunkin' Donuts. "Dunkin' Donuts strives to endure adherence to food safety standards." McDonald's issued this statement from the franchise owner. "My restaurant has an excellent track record with our local health department. My last inspection score was 99 out of 100." Burger King responded by telling us, "the particular restaurant has consistently achieved high health and safety results from both our internal and external audits, as well as those of the local health department."

However, health departments in Atlanta and in Los Angeles told us they do not test water in ice machines during health inspections. To be fair, none of the other locations of these establishments failed our tests in other cities and we only tested the failed establishments once. But clearly, there is contaminated ice out there. So, will it make you sick?

BERG: You personally, Heidi? Probably not. But chances are, people did. Young children, older people, anybody who was sick to begin with.

COLLINS: Most common complaints, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. So, what can you do to protect yourself? If you are lucky enough to live in one of the handful of states that have food safety officers, look for the sign telling you that one is on duty. Otherwise, if you see the server filling your cup, make sure they are wearing gloves and they don't touch the ice. Or, you can do what Jennifer Berg does.

Do you get ice in any of your drink whence you're out to eat?

BERG: I just decided, it's OK to just have beverages room temperature.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COLLINS: Another important thing to know about what happens in a commercialized type kitchen is, the ice machine maintenance. If the ice machine is not cleaned out on a regular basis, like every night after the restaurant closes, it can become a petri dish for bacteria that sits in the bottom of the storage container.

Also important to point out, Anderson, obviously not everybody's going to get sick if there is bacteria in the ice. But remember, if you're already not feeling well, if you're elderly or if you are a young child, then that bacteria can have a stronger effect.

COOPER: Heidi Collins, thanks, I guess.


COOPER: Not sure I wanted to know all this.

Coming up in this special edition of 360, what you can do about office germs. We're talking about on your keyboard, your phone, in the break room. We put our place to the test and, well, we failed pretty miserably.

Also tonight, a 360 viewer who took our germ challenge. She calls herself a cleaning neurotic. We sent our germ tester to her house. Wait until you see what we found.

And millions of women sample freebies each day at the make-up counters. We were surprised to find out what may be living in that make-up. 360 investigates dirty make-up.

Be right back.


RUDI BAKHTIAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening again, everyone. I'm Rudi Bakhtiar in New York with the headlines for you.

First, grim news in the search for nine-year-old Dylan Groene. Remains have been turned up in western Montana. They'll be sent to the FBI Lab in Quantico, Virginia, for identification. Dylan, and his sister Shasta, disappeared nearly two months ago after their mother, brother, and the mother's boyfriend were murdered at their home in Coeur D'Alene. Shasta was recovered over the weekend in the company of a sex offender named Joseph Duncan. He's charged with the kidnapping.

On to Iran now where the new president elect today dismissed allegations that he was involved in the 1979 hostage taking at the U.S. embassy in Teheran and in killing dissidents. Six former American hostages held in the embassy takeover have claimed that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was one of their captors.

To Washington next. For the first time the nation's capital will conduct an evacuation drill after the Fourth of July fireworks display to see how quickly the traffic around the mall can be emptied. Fifteen minutes after the fireworks end, traffic signals will be changed to see the impact on traffic and pedestrians. All this to prepare for a possible terrorist attack or any other kind of emergency.

In Toronto, Canada's most notorious female inmate. Karla Homolka was freed today after serving 12 years for the rape, torture and murder of three schoolgirls, including her own younger sister. The former veterinarian's assistant, now 35, was convicted back in 1993. Prosecutors gave her a reduced sentence in return for her testimony against her ex-husband. Her lawyers and father say Ms. Homolka plans to resettle in Montreal.

Those are the headlines. ANDERSON COOPER 360 continues right after this short break.


COOPER: In our special edition of 360 tonight, "Enough to Make You Sick," we're uncovering the truth about germs. Where they're hiding and what you can do about them. We've already talked about how bugs and bacteria may be lurking in ice. Well here's something else you can worry about -- musty, mildewy, garden variety mold. Whether you realize it or not, most homes are covered in mold. And in some cases, mold might be the reason you and your family are having some medical problems. Here's CNN's Gary Tuchman.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You can call them the mold busters. They've seen it all -- from black mold on walls, to moldy fungus on high chairs, to mushrooms actually growing out of the carpet. Their job, to literally rip it all out of your house. And here in the Kansas City area, mold busters, more formally known as remediators, get a lot of their references from this doctor.

DR. JAY PORTNOY, CHILDREN'S MERCY HOSPITAL: If you think about it, it makes a lot more sense to pay a plumber $200 to fix a leaking pipe that's leading to mold, than it does to pay a $9,000 intensive care unit bill.

TUCHMAN: As many as 30 million Americans are allergic to mold. Almost all homes have some, although it's not always visible. It can cause reactions ranging from teary eyes to rashes to asthma attacks.

DR. KATHLEEN SHEERIN, ALLERGIST: Microscopic spores come up in the air. And it's actually the spores that get you. It's the circulating part of the mold, not the disgusting mold that's in the corner or on your ceiling.

TUCHMAN: At Kansas City's Children's Mercy Hospital, the man in charge of the hospital's allergy department is also in charge of its unique environmental health program.

PORTNOY: We treat the patient's house, as well as the patient.

TUCHMAN: Dr. Jay Portnoy's environmental team is inspecting the Kansas City home of the Nash (ph) family. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You may want to talk to a professional remediator about the mold removal with the children in the home. After that point, then you can clean any of the visible molds that we've pointed out along the wall, anything on the rafters. Make sure the wood is completely dried out. TUCHMAN: The reason there is so much concern in this house is because little Leo Nash (ph) has respiratory problems and serious eczema. He has to wear tights on his legs and long sleeves on his arms on a hot Missouri day so he doesn't scratch himself. The doctor's diagnosis -- it all may be the result of too much mold in the house.

Does it make you feel like guilty in any way that possibly the house caused some of the issues?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes. Overwhelmed too.

TUCHMAN: This family will now likely end up calling the mold busters. Whether you're working or observing, you have to wear these suits and masks in order to protect yourself from the mold which could fall on your clothing or your skin. Well the people who live here are protecting themselves. They're on vacation right now. Remediation isn't cheap. A typical house job could cost between $8,000 and $10,000, and it could cost as much as $20,000, which is too much for some families, like the Kiefers (ph) of Topeka, Kansas, who abandoned their rented house after a multitude of mold was found. All four of their children have had respiratory problems. Jenny Kiefer (ph) tells the doctor their problem started after their basement flooded.

JENNY KIEFER, DAUGHTER: When they pulled the carpet up, the mold was visible.

TUCHMAN: The diagnosis for the children?

PORTNOY: That is consistent with asthma.

TUCHMAN: So what do you do in your house before the mold gets too bad? Reducing moisture reduces mold. Air conditioners help a great deal. Humidifiers do not. Dr. Portnoy says of all the things people are allergic to, mold in the house is mainly the most common, which means the old-fashioned medical house call now has a new relevance.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Kansas City, Missouri.


COOPER: Well, up next on 360, our special look at the germs around us. Make-up counter hazards. Millions of women think they're getting something for free. They are at no extra charge for the breeding bacteria.

Also tonight, are you working in an office or a petri dish? Me, a petri dish. We're going to have the gory details on how our toilets may be cleaner than our computer keyboards. And one of our viewers takes the 360 germ challenge. Is she really the queen of clean as she thinks? The germ-o-meter will tell us which has more bacteria, our viewer's house or our workplace.


COOPER: Well, they say the best things in life are free. But what if those freebies are "Enough to Make You Sick"? We've told you about bacteria in ice cubes and about the dirty roommate that doesn't pay rent, mold. Now another hazard that ladies in particular need to watch out for -- free cosmetic samples at make-up counters. As it turns out, they may be infested. Here's CNN's Randi Kaye.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sitting out in the open. Colors just begging for a test drive. Creams and concealers you can't pass up. And lipstick so inviting. But there may be an ugly side to getting beautiful.

PROF. ELIZABETH BROOKS, ROWAN UNIVERSITY: It was horrible. Where women would actually just pick up the lipstick and put it on their lips directly and then put it back.

KAYE: And then you come along and you have no idea that somebody's done that.

BROOKS: Exactly. Yes.

KAYE: Professor Elizabeth Brooks discovered it as part of a project with her students at Rowan University. With permission from stores she promised never to identify, they headed out to collect samples.

BROOKS: This is a sterile swab which means we know that there's no bacteria on it.

KAYE: They tested lipstick, shadows, blushes and creams. Anything you might put on your skin when sampling at the make-up counter.

Dr. Brooks and her students visited about 12 stores, took more than 400 samples. They brought them back here to the university's lab and tested them. What they found was, well, gross.

BROOKS: Well, we found bacteria. But what was alarming is the numbers. You know, it was just very, very high microbial counts. And more specifically, we did find that E. coli, which does set off the alarm bells there.

KAYE: Alarm bells, she says, because the E. coli came from one source, fecal matter.

BROOKS: Basically what that says is that someone had poor bathroom hygiene, touched the make-up, and then you and I come along and try the make-up on. KAYE: In a sense . . .


KAYE: What are we doing at that point?

BROOKS: We're putting feces on our face. Not a fun thing to do. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ooh, that's kind of gross.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm definitely never going to do that again because that's kind of gross.

KAYE: Don't worry, ladies. None of the bacteria Dr. Brooks found will kill you.

BROOKS: If you introduced it into your eyes, you could get conjunctivitis. But, you know, a zit, that's pretty much it. But it's just that ick factor. Who wants that on their face?

KAYE: Professor Brooks did have some tips for make-up shoppers, like ask stories to sanitize samples, test the make-up on your hands instead of your face, and never put anything near your eye, nose or mouth. Because while the germs may not be lethal.

BROOKS: We put it on our face and we are basically feeding these little critters and making them grow.

KAYE: Yuck.

BROOKS: Yes. Big time yuck.

KAYE: It is certainly enough to make your skin crawl.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Glassborough, New Jersey.


COOPER: Hidden germs in your office. It's "Enough to Make You Sick". Your keyboard, your phone, even your desk are a breeding ground for bacteria. Tonight, why your office may be dirtier than a bathroom toilet. And what you can do to clean it up.

And you won't believe what's living in your mattress and your pillow. Tonight, the tiny creatures you are sleeping with, and what you can do to get rid of them before they make you sick. This special edition of 360 continues.


COOPER: Welcome back to this special edition of 360, "Enough to Make You Sick."

So we spent the last half hour getting pretty personal with you. We peered into that cup of ice you're holding. We've gone into the make-up bag.

Now we think it's only fair that we turn the camera on ourselves. We spend a lot of time in our office, maybe too much time, probably about the same amount you do. Here's something that may make you want to head home early. The average workplace is swirling with more germs than you'd find on a toilet.

Here's CNN's Heidi Collins. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sushi, sandwiches and salads. All sharing space with computers, phones and files.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It saves time eating at your desk. There's really no time to eat out.

COLLINS: Add to that, shared workspaces and sick colleague, and you have a variable petri dish of illness causing organisms.

DR. CHARLES GERBA, MICROBIOLOGIST: Most people don't clean their desk until they start sticking to it.

COLLINS: And Professor Charles Gerba should know. To many, he is Dr. Germ. Gerba has been tracking disease causing bacteria in the office as part of several studies sponsored by Clorox. What he found is, even though we nearly live at the office, we definitely don't clean it like we should.

Gerba and his team collected more than 7,000 samples from workplaces across the country. He found, on the average workspace, 21,000 bacteria per square inch. And before you touch that elevator button, might want to put on a glove. He found 3,500 bacteria per square inch. That may not mean much to you, but compare it with the average workplace toilet, just 49 bacteria per square inch. That means your workspace may have a whopping 400 times more bacteria than your office toilet.

To make things worse, on many of the surfaces he tested, he found parainfluenza and that will just plain make you sick.

ROSALYN STONE, COO, WELLNESS INCORPORATED: People don't wash their hands and they brought the germs from outside into work. They come to work often sick. And our hands transmit those germs.

COLLINS: Rosalyn Stone is the COO of Wellness Incorporated and is the chairwoman of the CDC's Workplace Flu Prevention Team. She says people who come to work sick have become a pricey problem for employers.

According to the "Harvard Business Review", companies lose $150 billion a year in lost productivity and higher healthcare expenses.

STONE: When you do use a disinfectant, it does keep that surface relatively germ-free for 24 hours. So you need to do it every day.

COLLINS (voice-over): But are we doing it every day? Especially since most of us hardly have enough time to eat a proper lunch, much less clean up. Here at CNN, we do have disinfecting wipes like these, but this is a busy 24-news operation. So we began to wonder. What might be lurking on our desks, phones, and conference tables? And is anyone cleaning them?

So we brought in the germinator himself. (voice-over) Armed with a cooler full of swabs and a germ meter, Professor Gerba arrived at our offices ready to put us to the test. With his germ meter at the ready, Dr. Germ wanted to see exactly what we gamble with every day.

GERBA: It's going to give me a relative idea how many bacteria are on it. And usually if it's really bad, it's going beep here. And it's going to say fail.

COLLINS: Then the beeping begins.

GERBA: That's not a good sign.

COLLINS: He tested the phones, the workstations, the mouse, and that conference table where we hold our meetings every morning.

GERBA: Yes, let's look right here. This looks bad. Oh, 5.5, that's a record.

COLLINS: 5.5? Ew!

GERBA: That means there's about -- more than 50 million bacteria.

COLLINS: Fifty million bacteria?


COLLINS: The break room was so bad, he sent the samples off to the lab, where they came back at astronomical levels. The lab technician stopped counting when the number hit 100,000 bacteria per square inch on the break room sponge. Remember, the average workplace toilet is only 49 bacteria per square inch.

Just when we didn't think it could get any worse, we found Richard's desk. When Gerba checked his germ meter, it came back...

GERBA: 4.3?


GERBA: That's off the charts.

COLLINS: That's the dirtiest table we've had yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's embarrassing.

COLLINS: Gerba went on to test Richard's keyboard, and found it, too was high.

GERBA: 3.5.

COLLINS: When Dr. Germ is amazed, this is not good.

RICHARD: It's not good.

COLLINS: After all that, we weren't sure we could take anymore. But there was one place we hadn't tested, and we just had to know about. Anchorman and colleague, Anderson Cooper. Conveniently enough, the day we were testing, he was away. What we found was horrifying. That's heinous.

GERBA: This guy needs to wash his hands once in a while. Well, I certainly wouldn't use his desk. I'd leave this guy alone.

COLLINS: We couldn't resist telling Anderson our results when he came back into the office.

You failed miserably.

COOPER: 2.5 is passing.


COOPER: I got a 3.7.



COLLINS: That fails miserably. The next one is your keyboard here. OK? You got a 4.1. And I can tell you that four, the number four, equals about 10,000 bacteria per square inch.

COOPER: Wow. And it's 2.5 to pass?

COLLINS: 2.5 to pass.

COOPER: Wow, so my keyboard is...

COLLINS: I would not even touch it again. And then, your phone is dismal. OK? 4.6, which once we hit the number five...

COOPER: It doesn't look that bad.

COLLINS: I mean, you're talking about 1 million bacteria per square inch.

COOPER: Smells a little bad, actually.

COLLINS: You want to put your nose on it?


COLLINS: I wouldn't do that again either. Even Professor Gerba was disgusted.

GERBA: Well, this is pushing a two or three in terms of the germiest places I've ever seen. We haven't found one pass in the whole office area. We've tested all day, which is really unusual. COLLINS: So what should you do? Gerba says you should wash your hands frequently for at least 60 seconds. You say you don't have time? Then Gerba says pick up a hand sanitizer and wash your hands with that and wipe down your desk with disinfectant every day. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Dr. Germ did say this was one of the filthiest workplaces he's ever seen. And he tests a lot of places across the world. So it doesn't bode well for us.

But remember, not all bacteria will make you sick. The times you should be most concerned about germs are during cold and flu season, and if you see a co-worker sneeze on your keyboard.

COOPER: Heidi, thank you very much for that report. I just want to -- uh, our phones were pretty bad, as well.

COLLINS: Yes, the phones were terrible. The main reason, though, for like phones and keyboards and such are because people are sharing them as you saw in the story. So a lot of people asked me after that story about cell phones.

COOPER: Right.

COLLINS: Well, obviously the difference is you have a cell phone, it's a personal cell phone. It's your own. You're not usually sharing it.

COOPER: It's your own bacteria.

COLLINS: That's right.

COOPER: That's right. I'm very comfortable with my own bacteria.

COLLINS: Keep our bacteria to ourselves.

COOPER: All right, Heidi, thanks very much. Fascinating.

We received a lot of e-mails from you about that story. And there was one resounding theme. A lot of you think your home is cleaner than our dirty, dirty offices. And well, we challenged you to prove it.

Coming up on 360, we'll tell you about the viewer who took us up on her germ challenge. See how her home stacked up against our office.

Oh, also ahead tonight on 360. We've heard the expression don't let the bedbugs bite. But how can you sleep tight knowing these guys are living in your mattresses and your pillows? Millions of them. We've got the low down on dust mites.


COOPER: Welcome back to this special edition of 360, "Enough to Make You Sick". We're investigating the dirty truth about well the bacteria in our lives. As we mentioned earlier, many of you e-mailed us about the filthy working conditions here at 360. In fact, a lot of you think your home is cleaner than our office.

Well, we challenged you to prove it. And while many of you replied, we could only visit one viewer. And we sent our germ specialist to her house. How did it match up against our grimy, grimy workplace?

CNN's Heidi Collins found out.


COLLINS (voice-over): PhD student Allison Marullo is a self- described cleaning neurotic.

ALLISON MARULLO, STUDENT: My family thinks I'm a little nuts with the cleaning.

COLLINS: We went to visit Allison at her New Jersey home with Dr. Germ's research specialist, Sherry Maxwell.

Hi, Allison.


COLLINS: Heidi Collins, CNN.

MARULLO: Nice to meet you.

COLLINS: Nice to meet you. And this is Sherry.

She described her cleaning routine to us. Antibacterial soaps, cleansers, sponges. She's thought of everything. Has she thought of everything?

SHERRY MAXWELL, BACTERIAL RESEARCH SPECIALIST: Not only that, she is -- what'd she call herself?

COLLINS: Neurotic.


COLLINS: Neurotic. Are you neurotic? Do you really think you're neurotic with all this stuff?

MARULLO: I don't think I'm that bad. I think I'm just wise.

COLLINS: Well, we would see how wise she really was.

OK, Allison, what we're going to do is we're going to have Sherry go around with this handy dandy germ-o-meter, that's the technical term, right, and test your apartment for the different bacterias that we might be able to find. And with that, we sent Allison outside to see if her house would really meet the challenge.

Now she said she uses hand sanitizers, disposable cleansers. She's very careful about sponges in the bathroom and in the kitchen both. So we'll see.

MAXWELL: I think she's neurotic.

COLLINS: We brought out the germ-o-meter to measure the amount of bacteria in Allison's home. A 2.5 or more on the germ-o-meter fails. When we tested CNN, the average workspace was a 3.4, and Anderson's phone was a 4.6. That means nearly two million bacteria per square inch compared to the average office toilet seat of 49 bacteria per square inch.

In that bacteria lurked parainfluenza, which can just make you sick. Allison didn't have to do much cleaning to do better than that. But is she really cleaner than Anderson? By the way, of the 31 tests we did at CNN, none passed.

GERBA: Oh, 5.5, that's a record.


Our specialist said the kitchen was the top spot for germs. First, we tested the sink.

Pass. 1.4. Wow.

Then the cutting board. Another pass. So 1.5.

Next, the refrigerator handle. Pass again. Everything is 1.4.

MAXWELL: Maybe she cleaned right before we got here.

COLLINS: Our bacteria queen was really beginning to think Allison was neurotic. She even let me run the germ-o-meter.

MAXWELL: Do you want to do it?


And I tested the faucet. I'm becoming a germ-o-meter reader. 1.4. Wow. Allison was amazing the experts. Until -- we moved over to the counter. Fail. 4.6? 4.6 is bad.


COLLINS: So anything close to five is something like 1 million bacteria per square inch. We've got her. All right, let's find some more. Come with me.

Then we went to the table where she eats and watches TV every day. The remotes looked suspicious. She might not have gotten her hands on these to clean them before we got here. Oh, 2.5.

MAXWELL: A warning.

COLLINS: And then the table. 2.8. And this is where she's actually eating the food.


COLLINS: So that kind of worse, isn't it?

And that's a common mistake. People often remember to be very careful in the food preparation area, where salmonella and feces from their meat or poultry can grow. But they forget to wipe down other areas where bacteria can also grow.

You need to clean all the surfaces that you touch. Not just the ones where you're preparing food.

We had one last place to check -- the bathroom. According to our experts, this should be the cleanest place in the house. But Allison was not a typical subject. We tested her sink.

MAXWELL: 2.3. Kind of borderline.

COLLINS: And her toilet seat. Overall, our expert gave her an "A" in the kitchen, and a "C" in the bathroom. It was time to give Allison the results. That counter right there, that divides the eating area...


COLLINS: ...and the kitchen, 4.6.


COLLINS: What do you have to say for yourself?

MARULLO: I guess I skipped an area.

COLLINS: And how did the compulsive cleaner take the news?

MARULLO: I'm careful where I think it counts in the kitchen and the bathroom. But now that I know that I have to be careful everywhere, I'll be a little more diligent. I'm glad I did this. I'm glad I know.

COLLINS: Did you ever imagine that you, Allison, would actually need to be more diligent with your cleaning habits?

MARULLO: Probably not, no.

COLLINS: You kind of thought you were, you had it all worked out, right?

MARULLO: Yes, I did.

COLLINS: All right.

MARULLO: You proved me wrong.

COLLINS: We won?

MARULLO: You proved me wrong.

COLLINS: But our expert says Allison was doing a lot of things right. She washes her hands a lot, uses antibacterial products, and throws away sponges after she uses them.

So Allison, we salute you for meeting or challenge, and for having a cleaner home than our offices.


COLLINS: A much cleaner home, that's for sure.

But we should remind you, germs in the home can show up where you least expect them. Even if you try your best to keep your home clean. Despite the best efforts to keeps homes germ-free, too. Studies show that more than 65 percent of colds and 50 percent of food-borne illnesses are caught in the home.

So what you can do? Well, follow Allison's lead and clean and disinfect your home well. And Allison, for meeting our challenge and being such a good sport...

COOPER: She was very brave to allow us into her house.

COLLINS: She was very brave.

COOPER: And she did very well.

COLLINS: Allison, Anderson has signed this beautiful picture of himself.

COOPER: You know what's sad?

COLLINS: For you.

COOPER: As you put that picture up, I noticed it's smeared with my grimy little fingerprints.

COLLINS: She also gets a T-shirt. It's brand new clean. We swear no one's worn it.

COOPER: I haven't even touched it.

COLLINS: And this mug that we took out of a sterilized container. So thanks for being so clean, Allison.

COOPER: We're sending our germs to you, Allison.


COOPER: Thanks very much, Heidi.

Next on this special edition of 360, move over eentsy beetsy -- eentsy weentsy spider, you've got some serious competition. Dust mites, there could be millions of them in your bed. Ugh! And they could be hazardous to your health. We'll tell you why, ahead.


BAKHTIAR: Hello again, everyone. I'm Rudi Bakhtiar here with a check of the headlines for you, starting with a skeptical note from President Bush on a tough global warming statement at the G-8 Summit in Scotland. Members have been hammering out language in advance of Wednesday's gathering. The president says if it borrows too much from earlier agreements, which he says cramp the economy, his answer will be a polite no.

First, though, a little rough and tumble on the streets of Edinburgh. Protesters and police clashing again today, clogging traffic and making business in the center of town anything but business as usual. Police telling local merchants to close and workers to stay off the streets for now.

Today in Atlanta, leaders of the United Church of Christ approved a resolution endorsing same-sex marriage. It is not, however, binding on member churches. The denomination has a tradition of tolerance when it comes to gay and lesbian issues.

And finally, how about a red-hot? How about two? Or maybe, three, or more? You see, on Coney Island today, three was an appetizer there. 49, yes, 49 was the meal. That's how many dogs Takeru Kobayashi put down in just 12 minutes in fact. He took Nathan's hot dog eating contest for the fifth year running. Not a record though. See, last year, the same guy eight 53.5 of that.

Those are the headlines. ANDERSON COOPER 360 continues right after this.


COOPER: Welcome back to this special edition of 360 -- a look at the germs around us. It's "Enough to Make You Sick".

At the end of a long hard day, what can be better than the comforts of home and a good night's sleep? The only problem is you might be sharing your bed with some unwanted visitors. We're talking about creepy, crawly bugs -- tiny, microscopic invisible to the naked eye. Chances are, there are millions of them living in your bed, particularly if your mattress is old.

Here's 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta.


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When they bought their new house in late 2004, Allyson and Reed Winnick were filled with promise and pride.

ALLYSON WINNICK, INDOOR ALLERGY SUFFERER: We moved here October 1, into a pristine gorgeous home on the beach. And within a couple weeks, we all started getting sick. Coughs and congestion and runny noses.

GUPTA: The whole family was besieged by a mysterious illness. They were exhausted, moving at a slower pace. It became harder to wake up in the morning. And seven-year-old Justin was late for school almost every day.

A. WINNICK: I was ready to move out. GUPTA: Increasingly frustrated and confused, the Winnicks had air samples taken in their new home. They feared it was sinister mold growing in the air ducts, or even asbestos, or fiberglass from new construction. It was neither.

A. WINNICK: We have lots of dust mites. Lots and lots of dust mites -- and nothing else. Everything else came up clean. It was in every room that we tested. The bedroom, the playroom, the living room. It was everywhere.

GUPTA: The Winnicks were suffering from indoor allergies from dust mites. Dust mites are microscopic spiders so small that 7,000 of them can fit on a dime. They thrive in humidity, and feed off skin cells humans shed.

The Winnicks aren't alone. 99 percent of all households have them. The average number in any given bed? Two million.

DR. GILLIAN SHEPERD, ALLERGY SPECIALIST: In the case of the dust mites, what the allergy substance is, is disgustingly, it is a very potent protein in the fecal dropping of these mites. And they tend to be in highest concentrations in bedding, in pillows.

GUPTA: While the Winnicks' indoor allergy trigger is the dust mite, there are several other culprits when it comes to indoor allergies.

SHEPERD: Indoor allergies are extremely common, probably vastly more common than seasonal allergies. The number one culprits are the pets at home.

GUPTA: With cats dogs, the actual allergen isn't their hair, but a protein found in their saliva, dander, skin and urine. It's so pervasive, it is easily transported on an owner's clothing.

As for cats, even if you remove one from a room, it takes six months before it's free of cat allergen. Also, there may be a reason why some people are allergic to some cats, and not others.

DR. CLIFFORD BASSETT, ALLERGY SPECIALIST : The darker the color the pet dander on cats, the more allergy symptoms. And male cats have more dander and seem to have more allergenic properties than female cats in a variety of preliminary studies.

GUPTA: Besides dust mites and pet dander, cockroaches are a major source of indoor allergies in cities.

SHEPERD: One of the difficulties in many of these perennial allergens is that you can clean vigorously. However, they're going to recur. So it's something that requires ongoing effort.

AVINOAM HELLER, HEALTHY NEST: We're going to use vibration and suction to get the vacuum -- to get the allergies out of it.

Just roll it up now. GUPTA: The Winnicks turned to Healthy Nest, a company that specializes in testing and ridding the home of allergens. The treatments can cost hundreds of dollars.

HELLER: A good idea is actually to uncover the bed and leave it open. Leave windows open when you can. And if you have the opportunity to expose your mattress or your bed to direct sunlight, that's an excellent thing to do.

GUPTA: Otherwise to fight indoor allergies, keep humidity below 50 percent possibly with a dehumidifier. Use allergy protectant covers for your mattress, box springs, and pillows. Wash your sheets weekly in hot water and use a hot dryer. Vacuum weekly with a HEPA filter. Consider hardwood or tile floors. Carpets can accumulate 1,000 times more allergen than non-carpeted floors. As for stuffed toys, put them in a plastic bag and freeze for 24 hours to kill those mites.

Now six months after finding the dust mites, the Winnicks have learned to deal with them.

A. WINNICK: So everything's good. No one sneezes in the morning when they wake up anymore.


GUPTA: And another interesting point about dust mites, this one will surprise you, in Sweden, they actually measured the weight of a pillow. And they found that a 15-year-old pillow, 80 percent of its weight actually came from dust mites. Yes, live dust mites and dead dust mites. And of course, those are a source of allergens as well.

The Winnick family is doing well, but they remind us that not all germs necessarily are bad germs, Anderson.

COOPER: Wait, 80 percent of the weight of a 15-year-old pillow was dust mites?

GUPTA: I thought I'd get your attention with that one.

COOPER: That is so disgusting.

GUPTA: I know. End on a disgusting note there.

COOPER: I've got pillows that are like 10 years old. I'm probably just sleeping all in dust mites.

GUPTA: I would clean them, Anderson. That'd be my...

COOPER: Or just toss them out, maybe. Are there such things as good germs, though? Because I mean, not all bacteria is necessarily bad, right?

GUPTA: Yes, I mean, that's a really important point. Look, on your skin right now, Anderson, you have 90 trillion germs floating around. If you look down, you won't see them, but they're there. They provide a barrier in your skin. Every square inch of your upper throat, 65 billion bacteria. The purpose is to crowd out bad bacteria that's trying to invade your system. So there's certainly good bacteria out there, Anderson.

There's a whole industry called probiotics. You may have heard of that. Basically, probiotics is trying to get good bacteria into your intestines. All those things that are good. It'll produce certain vitamins, help you clot your blood better, Vitamin B as well to help you digest food better.

There was another study where they actually gave bacteria to kids with ear infections to try and treat the ear infection. So certainly, there's good bacteria out there.

COOPER: All right. So maybe my office is a big petri dish, but maybe it's not all bad bacteria. You know, are -- is there too much of an obsession trying to be clean? You have these antibacterial wipes and sponges? Are we going overboard?

GUPTA: A lot of people would say yes, that we are going overboard. Two main reasons. One is that we might be causing antibiotic resistance. And a lot of people have talked about this.

But basically, if you use antibiotics and if you use all these antibacterial wipes a lot, you may be killing good bacteria and allowing bad bacteria to proliferate even more. That's what antibiotic resistance is.

But a more subtle nuance point, Anderson, is something called the hygiene hypothesis -- a belief that if you live in too sterile a society, you're not exposing kids, for example, to certain bacteria, certain germs that'll teach their immune system to fight the good fight. So later in life, they start to have higher rates of asthma, of eczema and allergies. So we may be going a little bit overboard here.

COOPER: All right. Let's break it down. I got some sort of just quick questions for you on some specifics. Daycare, play groups, are they good or bad for a kid's immune system?

GUPTA: Good for kid's immune system. They have found that kids who are exposed to colds earlier in life, less likely to have problems later on. Larger families, kids tend to have fewer colds as well.

COOPER: You go shopping. Should you wash your hands every time?

GUPTA: If you're buying raw meat and vegetables, you certainly should wash your hands. If you're buying ties and pinstriped suits, you probably don't need to as much.

COOPER: That's all I buy.

So being around kids -- or being around pets as a kid, does that increase or reduce your risk for allergies?

GUPTA: Reduces your risk for allergies. This one surprised a lot of people. But actually having two or more pets in the house actually decreased your risk of allergies by about 70 percent in the long term.

COOPER: I abide by the 10 second rule. If the food falls on the floor, 10 seconds, I can still eat it. Will it make you sick?

GUPTA: The PTA's going to be angry with me for this one. But actually, if it's not dirty, you can probably go ahead and eat it. You're not going to accumulate enough bacteria or new bacteria on that, that's going to be particularly harmful.

COOPER: Which city has the dirtiest hands?

GUPTA: That would be New York City, Anderson. In fact, they did this study. They actually looked at airports. And they found that 92 percent of people say they wash their hands when they walk out of the airport, but only about 70 percent actually do.

So Anderson, next time you are at LaGuardia, make sure to wash your hands.

COOPER: All right. That's Sanjay Gupta, thanks.

GUPTA: Thank you.

COOPER: Well, I'm Anderson Cooper. That does it for our special look at the dirt that surrounds us. It's "Enough to Make You Sick". Thanks for toughing it out. CNN's primetime coverage continues with PAULA ZAHN.