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Hey, Matt:

I was paying bills and realized that because I had a bad cold, maybe I'd be giving my germs to people on the receiving end. Can my bad germs affect them after a few days in the post office machines?

-- Letter Licker in La Mesa

Oook. Well, I'd guess no, but you never can tell. Science guys have measured virus and bacteria life span on lots of hard, dry surfaces, and they vary all over the lot -- a few seconds to a few days. Viruses don't fare very well, since they need the cell of a living organism in order to replicate. Bacteria handle that function by themselves, so all they need is a comfortable environment. And no matter which organism you have, the potential infectee would need to touch the germy spot, then stick fingers in mouth, nose, or eyes to get the bugs inside. Once your mail gets to your credit card company, again it's handled mostly by machine. But even if someone handles the mail, to risk illness they'd have to open an envelope, poke themselves in the eye, open an envelope, pick their nose, open an envelope, suck their thumb. You'll have to come up with another plan to wipe out your creditors.

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