Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Do you need to change your toothbrush after a cold?

I've been suffering thru a bout of the flu this last week, and I have to admit one of the things on my mind is whether or not I need to change my toothbrush when I get better. After all, isn't that the likeliest source of reinfection? An article on slate suggests, that may not be the case.

Once you've been infected with a particular strain of a virus, you develop antibodies that make the likelihood of re-infection very low. Even if the virus were still hanging out on your toothbrush after you recovered—colds and flus can survive there in an infective state for anywhere from a few hours to three days—those antibodies should keep you from contracting the same illness twice. Your toothbrush is no more dangerous while you're still sick, since the viral load on the bristles is negligible compared with what's already in your system.
I must admit while this makes sense to me, I am still likely to change the brush sooner than later. The idea of brushing with an infected brush is unpleasant, at best.

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