Medical Definition of Bacteriaphobia

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Bacteriaphobia: An abnormal and persistent fear of germs. Sufferers from bacteriaphobia experience undue anxiety even though they realize that most germs are not pathogens (disease-causing germs). To avoid germs, they may repeat cleaning rituals, such as washing their hands or face.

"Bacteriaphobia" is derived from the Greek "bacterion" (staff) and "phobos" (fear). The Greek word for "staff" was chosen because some bacteria (bacilli) are rod-shaped, like a staff.

Alternate spelling: Bacteriophobia. Alternate name: Bacillophobia. Also referred to as germaphobia, germaphobe, or germophobe.

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Last Editorial Review: 1/18/2017

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