ATLANTA, Ga.–As parents struggle to maintain as festive a germ-free bubble as possible around their children this holiday flu season, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warn of a particularly high area of Christmas contagion: Santa laps.

Officials from the CDC tested several hundred Santa laps this season, ranging from the standard mall Santa to the guy who pulled the short straw at the office Christmas party. Results were said to be quite surprising.

“We found high levels of bacterial and viral contaminants on almost every Santa, specifically centered around the lap region,” said Roger Levenstein, director of pathology. “Perhaps the most poignant of tests was when we shone our special UV lights on the Santas to gauge the intensity of contamination. I can still see their… quadrants glowing whenever I close my eyes.”

According to the CDC, the fluff and softness inherent to most Santa suits provides an environment that not only retains disease, but allows it to thrive. One particularly old Santa suit from Macy’s held traces not only of the H1N1 virus, but the 1918 “Spanish Flu” and typhoid.

The CDC has ranked sitting on Santas’ laps as the most dangerous source of holiday-related contamination, above eating a gingerbread cookie from the bottom of Aunt Gertie’s purse and being licked directly on the lips by the camel at the Living Nativity.

Levenstein noted that, should your child be more than willing to risk sickness or death to let Santa know he wants all sorts of Bakugan prattle the poor sickly elf knows nothing about, certain precautions can be taken to reduce the possibility of contracting more than the Christmas spirit.

“Spray your child’s bottom with a generous dose of disinfectant spray,” he said. “About half a can to a can should be safe — just enough so that there’s the faintest audible squish when you set him or her down on the lap.”

Most places, seeing Levenstein’s Lysol method as a sacrifice in comfort to both the child and the Santa, have created their own solution: festive sanitary covers similar to those found in many public restrooms.

“They’re actually kind of cute,” assistant “elf” Melissa Snyder said, holding up a wreath-shaped cover and peering through the middle. “I’ve almost considered sneaking a few out and hanging one on my door, but at the end of the day they have to go into that new mailbox next to the one for Santa’s letters; the one marked ‘Biohazard.’ Kind of a bummer.”

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