Cell phones- something you touch and place on potentially infected surfaces often could be harboring germs and helping to spread the flu virus and other potentially infectious pathogens.

The flu continues to spread. In fact, doctors say it's the worst year they have seen in a while.

Cell phones -- something you touch and place on potentially infected surfaces often -- could be helping to spread it.

On top of getting your flu shot and washing your hands, infection prevention expert Peg Pettis at Rochester General Hospital says you can catch the virus a handful of ways you often forget about.

"Unfortunately, flu virus can be just about anywhere -- door knobs, elevator buttons, shopping carts, and your phone," Pettis said.

Experts say your phone carries ten times more germs than your toilet seat.

Keep that idea in mind next time you hold your phone to your ear.

We put this to the test using a luminometer, which can detect germs. Pettis swabbed News10NBC's Kaci Jones' phone and anything below 200 is considered clean by hospital standards.

Jones' phone scored 240. Pettis tested another phone and this one scored 1,349, which is basically a breeding ground for germs.

"I think people feel that surfaces are clean," Pettis said. "I think everyone would be really surprised how dirty these every common items are."

Pettis says these surface germs can infect you the same way as airborne pathogens.

"The flu is probably equally transmittable from either touching a surface then touching your face or if your neighbor comes over and they have flu like symptoms just talking, laughing, singing can potentially transmit the flu virus," Pettis said.

There is hope for dirty phones out there. We retested the germy phone after a simple wipe down with an alcohol-based pad and this time it scored a 180.

Pettis says it's a good habit to wipe down your phone every day. This simple and quick practice can tremendously reduce your chances of getting the flu.

"Probably just about anything will help decrease the organisms on items so any kind of wipe that you have at home and alcohol-based sanitizers are great."

Another tip -- don't forget to wipe down your keyboard, your mouse, or any other surfaces you touch often at work.