Posts tagged with "Germs"

For a clean bill of health, disinfect your cell phone!

March 9, 2020

With the number of coronavirus cases steadily rising in the United States, as well as worldwide, there’s one preventative measure that’s “called for” even more than wearing a face mask, according to Debra Goff, Pharm.D., founding member of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Clean your cell phone, she advises.

“People handle their phones hundreds of times a day,” she told Prevention Magazine last week. “That means potentially exposing yourself to what’s on those surfaces every time.”

Even before the COVID-19 outbreak hit all the headlines, cell phones were acknowledged to be pretty nasty—even revolting—when it came to germs. For example, a 2017 study published in the infectious diseases journal, Germs, looked at 27 mobile phones owned by teenagers, and found “bacterial contamination” on all of them.

Surfaces can be notorious for hosting viruses, and some of them linger longer than others. For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), norovirus can stay on surfaces for days or even weeks. That particular virus gets attention most during cruise ship outbreaks, but it’s actually the most common cause of gastroenteritis (a.k.a. stomach flu) in the United States. Not only is it highly contagious, but it only takes a very small amount to make you sick.

Active influenza viruses also can live on surfaces for as long as two weeks, Prevention reports—and some are still present after seven weeks. Even on porous surfaces like cotton, the flu hung around for a week.

As for the coronavirus, it can make itself comfortable on your cell phone for at least nine days, scientists now believe.

So, exactly what should a cell phone owner do to ensure that his or her device is relatively germ-free? Prevention got a few tips from Goff and is passing them on—among them:

  1. Power down first. Before doing any cleaning, turn off your phone and unplug from any charger, Goff suggests.
  2. Opt for microfiber cloths. These specially designed cloths have more fibers than other types of material and, as a result, can pick up more microscopic particles, including bacteria and viruses, Goff says. That doesn’t mean it kills theml it just lifts them off surfaces without the use of water. Think of it as a little virus magnet. Because of that, be sure to thendisinfect the cloth before using it again. The best way is using your dishwasher—that “sanitize” cycle works like a charm—then hanging the cloth up to dry. However, you also can throw it in the washing machine with warm water. And of course, wash your hands thoroughly after handling the germy cloth.
  3. Turn to rubbing alcohol. If your cell phone is particularly grubby, or you don’t have microfiber cloths, you can disinfect by creating a solution of about 60% water and 40% alcohol. Use a small corner of a cloth to gently clean the phone. Immediately use a dry portion of the cloth right afterward. A caution: Don’t spray the alcohol directly on the cell phone, and be sure to dilute it. You can also use a microfiber cloth for this for extra cleaning clout. Goff adds that regular soap and water works, too, just be sure to squeeze out excess liquid before using.
  4. 4. Don’t use abrasive products. Using a screen protector is helpful,if you want to use other types of cleaning products, says Goff, but if you don’t have one, avoid using products with ingredients that will affect your phone’s screen coating. These includewindow cleaner, vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide.
  5. Keep it clean. Also, be mindful about how you’re using your phone, Goff adds, especially in germy areas like public restrooms. Handling your phone or putting it down in an area that regularly gets a fine spray of toilet water, sneezes, and coughs? Yikes.

    Your phone will pick up whatever is on that surface,” says Goff. “So, keep your phone clean, but also change your habits in terms of how you handle it after that.”

    Research contact: @PreventionMag

Sanitation insanity? Chipotle has nurses check if workers are sick

December 6, 2019

Chipotle has found a new way to protect the health of its customers and of its bottom line. The Mexican grill—which was responsible for a well-publicized juggernaut of norovirus among customers in Virginia in 2017—has instituted a regimen of strict food safety practices in order to prevent future outbreaks and reassure patrons at all of its 2,500 U.S. locations.

But has the chain of fast casual restaurants gone overboard to ensure employee health? An investigation at the time of the outbreak revealed that it was caused by store managers who failed to follow safety procedures and by an employee who worked while sick.  The company revealed this week that it has hired nurses to check whether employees who call in sick are genuinely unwell or just hungover, Business Insider reports.

“We have nurses on call, so that if you say, ‘Hey, I’ve been sick,’ you get the call into the nurse,” CEO Brian Niccol said at a Barclays conference on Wednesday, December 4. “The nurse validates that it’s not a hangover—you’re really sick—and then we pay for the day off to get healthy again.”

He added, “We have a very different food-safety culture than we did two years ago, OK?” Nobody gets to the back of the restaurant without going through a wellness check.”

However, a healthy workforce isn’t always enough to prevent customers from succumbing to germs in the environment. “There’s probably people in here that might have the common cold,” Niccol said at the conference, according to the news outlet. “Even if we clean up after you, and we don’t use a cleaner that kills that germ, it hangs around for the next customer.

“Even though our team member did nothing wrong—there was nothing wrong with our food—we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard to make sure that the dining room gets sanitized in a way that it hasn’t been in the past,” he said.

Chipotle has a solution: “We’ve got cleaner that actually kills norovirus when you clean the tables in the dining room,” Niccol said.

Research contact: @businessinsider

Researchers: Ties are a ‘socially desirable’ form of strangulation

July 18, 2018

Don’t tie that knot! The “business casual” dress code recently adopted by many firms actually has proven to be healthier for male workers. Indeed, findings of a study conducted at Germany’s Kiel University Hospital and released on June 30 show that wearing a tie actually can increase intraocular eye pressure—and decrease blood flow to the brain.

The researchers describe wearing a tie as a “socially desirable [form of] strangulation.”

To judge the ramifications of wearing a cravat, the study—due to be published in the journal, Neuroradiology, in August and covered by Business Insider on July 16—involved asking 15 men to wear ties, and 15 men to serve as a “control group” and go without them. The researchers then scanned the participants using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure cerebral blood flow and jugular venous flow.

What they discovered was that the brains of the tie-wearers were, on average, receiving 7.5% less “cerebral blood flow” than the brains of those subjects within the control group.The scientists attributed the lower blood flow to the narrowing of the carotid arteries, which carry blood away from the heart, under the pressure of the tie.

While a 7.5% reduction in blood flow may not appear substantial enough to cause noticeable health problems, people who already suffer with other health issues should be cautious: Whether you have high blood pressure, are elderly, or smoke cigarettes, you could end up suffering from headaches, dizziness, and nausea if you wear a tie for too long.

The restricted blood flow also can cause a backup of blood along the system to the eye—thus, raising eye pressure. Raised intraocular eye pressure is considered a risk factor for glaucoma and cataracts, and could possibly increase the risk of worsening existing glaucoma, according to the study.

What’s more, wearing a tie in a doctor’s office, hospital, or clinic could put others at potentially lethal risk, Businesss Insider reports. A study conducted by Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine showed that among 42 male surgical clinicians, nearly half had infection-causing pathogens on their ties.

“Researchers Eyal Zimlichman, Daniel Henderson, and Orly Tamir told Business Insider, “We estimated there are approximately 440,000 of these infections annually among U.S. adult in-patients and that their annual costs are $9.8 billion.”

That’s bad news for haberdashers, but potentially breakthrough information for the healthcare industry.

Research contact: r.lueddecke1992@googlemail.com

Many of us have cocaine on our hands

April 18, 2018

These days, germaphobes have resorted to fist-bumping, rather than the traditional handshake—and they may have the right idea. In fact, fully 80% of all infectious diseases are passed by human contact, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

But little did we know that we had even more to fear. When you shake somebody’s hand, chances are you may take away not only good feelings, but traces of feces, fecal flora, skin flora, respiratory secretions—and maybe even cocaine.

That’s because one in every eight people is walking around with traces of cocaine on his or her hands — and there’s a good chance that he or she has no idea where it came from, based on recent research at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom.

In a study published in the September 2018  edition of the journal, Clinical Chemistry, researchers from the university tested the fingerprints of 50 drug-free volunteers; as well as of 15 drug users, who testified to taking either cocaine or heroin in the previous 24 hours.

Interestingly enough 13% of the drug-free participants who self-reported having clean hands had traces of cocaine on their fingertips, while another 1%  had minute levels — about one metabolite — of heroin, the researchers found.

During a subsequent part of the experiment, the group’s drug-free volunteers shook hands with the drug users. The analysis showed that those with over one metabolite of drugs on their hands were the actual drug users, but that it was not unusual to find traces of drugs on the non-users fingers and palms.

Dr Melanie Bailey,a lecturer in Forensic Analysis at the university, commented, “Believe it or not, cocaine is a very common environmental contaminant. It is well-known that it is present on many bank notes. Even so, we were surprised that it was detected in so many of our fingerprint samples.”

Mahado Ismail, lead-author of the paper from the University of Surrey, said: “It’s clear that fingerprint testing is the future of drug-testing. There are many factors that set fingerprint testing apart: It’s non-invasive, easy to collect and you have the ability to identify the donor by using the sample. Our study will help to add another robust layer to fingerprint drug testing.”

Research contact:d.njolinjo@surrey.ac.uk