Even if a guest walked into the kitchen and held their breath, they still would slough off 10 million bacterial cells in just 60 minutes through skin shed, said Jack A Gilbert, associate professor at University of Chicago.

"Nearly all of the germs graciously donated by our friends and family are not disgusting. They are probably good for us in many different ways," said Gilbert.

Gilbert said our over-sanitised environment may ultimately leave us weaker than our ancestors, who were agrarian and were constantly surrounded by a wide variety of plants and animals. Their bodies adapted to such changes - and so our bodies expect to encounter them, too, he said.

Our constant hand washing - though it might prevent a nasty flu - might also keep us from developing immunities. Inviting friends and family to come around on a regular basis may help stimulate our immune systems, he said.

Likewise, having very young children interact with a wide variety of animals is only beneficial to their health and greatly outweighs the slim chance of exposure to something harmful, he said. Germs are so prevalent and impossible to eliminate, Gilbert said, there is no need to go overboard scrubbing the house after gatherings.

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