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CES: Sick of the show? Not if they can help it

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The only contingent more numerous at CES than gadget freaks is hypochondriacs. Take 140,000 sleep-deprived, overworked humans, cram them sardine-style in planes, buses and meetings rooms, and voila! You've just transformed Las Vegas into a 24-hour party for germs. The lengths to which people here will go to avoid getting sick is impressive.

At a CES event Saturday, German clock radio company Sonoro Audio gave away white gloves, which were far more popular than the press kits they were handing out. It's not uncommon to see someone whip out liquid hand sanitizer shortly after shaking hands. One marketing executive, who declined to have her name used, said she lines the insides of her nose with Neosporin before she boards the plane to Vegas. Other preventive remedies include mega doses of vitamin C and packets of Airborne, an herbal product said to help boost the immune system.

Jay Stevens (pictured above) builds convention booths for a living and has survived five CES shows. He has bacteria aversion down to a science. Stevens, a 35-year-old from Salt Lake City, Utah, gradually pumps his body with vitamin C leading up to the show, reaching a peak of 2000 milligrams a day. Before boarding the plane for Vegas, he sips Airborne. "I swear by that stuff," he said.

At the show, Stevens obsessively washes his hands. He tries never to directly touch escalator handrails,  doorknobs, keyboards, mice and controllers. But that's not always practical, especially at a trade show for gadgets. So every hour or so, he coats his hands with hand sanitizer, which he carries in his front pocket.

"People touch an escalator, pick up the germs," Stevens said. "The cellphone rings and they bring that to their face. That's all it takes. You're done!" This being CES, Steven's solution is a high-tech one -- a wireless Bluetooth headset, so the germs don't get a chance.

-- Alex Pham

Photo credit: Alex Pham

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Times editorial writer Jon Healey pens opinion pieces about a variety of business issues, and blogs about technologies that are changing the entertainment industry's business model.

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