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Tag Archive | "bacteria"

Facts and myths about germs at school


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(StatePoint) Everybody seems to have an opinion about germs — what causes them, where they’re located, how to avoid them — especially when it comes to children.

Experts say that American children miss 22 million days of school annually due to colds, flu and other infections.

“Avoiding germs at schools isn’t as simple as just washing your hands in the bathroom or sneezing into your sleeve,” says Charles Gerba, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and environmental sciences at the University of Arizona. “Germs are on everything kids touch in the classroom, as well as around the hallways, cafeteria and playground.”

With this in mind, it is important to separate facts from myths about germs in schools.

• Fact: Desks Are Among the Most Germ-Prone Items. It’s true! Students spend most of the day at their desks — sneezes, coughs and all — and, in some schools, they often switch classrooms and share desks with others. At the end of the day, students bring home that cocktail of germs to their families.

• Myth: Any Hand Sanitizer Will Do. According to research from the University of Colorado at Boulder, people carry an average of 3,200 bacteria on their hands. While most hand sanitizers are 99.9 percent effective at killing germs, some only last for a few minutes or until the application dries on the skin. Therefore, parents should consider applying hand sanitizers for their children that last throughout the day, such as Zoono’s GermFree24, which is proven to last for 24 hours on skin and is available as both a foam and a spray.

• Fact: Germs Can Affect Kids Outside the Classroom. Germs in schools aren’t just isolated to classrooms. They are everywhere, including cafeteria trays, playground jungle gyms and sports equipment. In fact, the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine found 63 percent of gym equipment is contaminated with rhinovirus, which causes the common cold. Reminding children to wash their hands before and after using these items (and wiping them down) will go a long way toward preventing sickness.

• Myth: Sticking Things in Your Mouth is Child’s Play. Sure, curiosity might drive preschoolers to stick items in their mouths that don’t belong. However, older students who nervously chew on pen caps, especially ones they borrow from classmates, or on their own fingernails during tough tests, are susceptible to picking up the germs that are traversing through school.

• Fact: Backpacks Carry More Than Just Books. Backpacks go everywhere — to classrooms, inside lockers, in the cafeteria, in locker rooms — and collect various germs throughout the day. Periodically clean backpacks inside and out. And make sure lunches and other food items, as well as gym clothes, are packed in separate bags to avoid cross-contamination of germs.

• Myth: Sharing is Always Caring. Just about every school supply — from pens and pencils to headphones to sport jerseys — can be a vehicle for harmful bacteria. Make sure children are armed with their own items, including mechanical pencils to avoid using the classroom’s pencil sharpener, and avoid sharing their supplies with classmates.

When it comes to germs, separating myths from facts can help you have a happier, healthier school year.

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Spring chicks may carry salmonella


HEA-Spring-chicks_FCOfficials at the Michigan departments of Agriculture and Rural Development and Health and Human Services are warning parents about the potential for baby poultry to carry Salmonella; a common bacteria found in the droppings of poultry which can cause illness in people.

“Washing your hands before and after handling chicks and other poultry is not only important for your bird’s health, it protects both you and your family from the risk of Salmonella,” said MDARD State Veterinarian Dr. James Averill. “Even birds appearing healthy can carry bacteria which can make people sick.”

“People enjoy raising baby chicks and having fresh eggs from their own birds,” said Eden Wells, MDHHS Chief Medical Executive. “Though keeping chickens can be fun and educational, poultry owners should be aware that chickens and other birds can carry germs and other viruses that can impact human health.”

Salmonella can cause diarrhea, vomiting, fever and/or abdominal cramps lasting four to seven days or more.

People should always assume baby chicks carry Salmonella and should follow these recommendations to protect themselves and others:

Children younger than five-years-of-age, older adults or people with weak immune systems should not handle or touch chicks, ducklings or other poultry because they are more likely to become severely ill.

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching the birds or anything in their environment. Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.

Use hand sanitizer until you can wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

Always keep poultry away from areas where food or drink is prepared, served or stored, such as kitchens or outdoor patios.

Do not kiss the chicks.

Do not touch your mouth, smoke, eat, or drink after handling poultry.

Frequently clean all equipment such as cages, feed, water containers and other materials associated with raising or caring for poultry.

For more information, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/features/salmonellababybirds/

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What you should know after two produce recalls


From the Kent County Health Department

The Cilantro was sold to distributors in Michigan on August 3, 2013. The product was also shipped to retail stores in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. The Cilantro, which was distributed through Meijer and Ben B Schwartz and Sons in Michigan the week of August 5-9, could be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.  The Cilantro has a Buurma Farms twist-tie on it.

The Cilantro was sold to distributors in Michigan on August 3, 2013. The product was also shipped to retail stores in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. The Cilantro, which was distributed through Meijer and Ben B Schwartz and Sons in Michigan the week of August 5-9, could be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. The Cilantro has a Buurma Farms twist-tie on it.

The Kent County Health Department wants consumers to know the symptoms of illness from the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. This comes after a second recall in West Michigan from potentially contaminated produce. This week, Buurma Farms, Inc., recalled fresh cilantro, sold in Meijer Stores in recent weeks. Earlier this month, Heeren Brothers Produce recalled cantaloupe sold in small, independent stores, due to possible listeria contamination.

The health department recommends those who may have eaten either of the recalled items to contact a health care provider if they notice symptoms of illness in the coming weeks, especially those who may already be at high risk for illness. The Listeria bacteria can cause the infection Listeriosis in some people, and can be fatal in high-risk populations. Listeriosis infection has an incubation period that ranges from three days to ten weeks.

Symptoms of Listeriosis include fever and muscle aches, sometimes preceded by diarrhea, stomach cramping or vomiting. If you start to notice these symptoms and believe you may have eaten any potentially contaminated produce in these recalls, contact your health care provider immediately. In pregnant women, Listeriosis can cause a variety of health complications for the fetus, including miscarriage and stillbirth. Other symptoms include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions. Even though Listeriosis is treatable with antibiotics, it has a high death rate among the food-borne infections.

“There have been no complaints of illness received from either the cantaloupe or cilantro recalls this summer,” said Adam London, Administrative Health Officer of Kent County. “Still, it is a concern, as the incubation period is so lengthy. We are especially concerned about people who are vulnerable to illness: newborns, older adults, those with compromised immune systems, and women who are pregnant.”

If you believe you have the produce that has been recalled, you should throw it away immediately.

Here is a link to the FDA recall, which includes a list of stores (mainly Meijer Stores) that have recalled cilantro: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm365422.htm.

More information on Listeriosis can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/listeria/.

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