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Medical Mythbuster: Can You Really Catch a Disease From a Toilet Seat?

Not surprisingly, many of us can feel uneasy using a public restroom. Even if it looks clean, we wonder about all the germs that could be lurking there. Fortunately, it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll catch something from sitting on a toilet seat in a public restroom. Most germs, like the common cold, can’t survive long on the cold, hard surfaces of a toilet seat. You also don’t need to worry about syphilis and gonorrhea when using a restroom since venereal diseases require sexual contact for transmission. (In fact, there’s no evidence anyone has ever caught a venereal disease using a toilet in a public restroom.)

However, there are some diseases you do need to worry about when using a public restroom. One of them is the norovirus. This particular germ (found in fecal matter) lasts longer on surfaces than others and can easily find its way onto faucet handles and doorknobs as well as other surfaces. That’s why it’s essential to thoroughly wash your hands after using a public lavatory. (Unfortunately, studies have shown that not everyone does this.) So it’s okay to be a little nervous when using the restroom at work, the theatre or a ballpark – just make sure your hands are thoroughly clean upon leaving.

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