27 NEWSFIRST Investigates: The Dirty Dozen

Here are the items we tested and their results:

1. Playground Slide
-Traces of fecal matter, could suggest E. coli
2. Menu
-Human Flora (normal organisms)
3. Dollar Bill
-Nothing Found
4. Computer Keyboard
-Nothing Found
5. Telephone
-Human Flora (normal organisms)
6. Gas Station Toilet Seat
-Human Flora (normal organisms)
7. Shopping Cart
-Human Flora (normal organisms)
8. Purse
-Human Flora (normal organisms)
9. Cellphone
-Human Flora (normal organisms)
10. Gas Station Bathroom Door
-Human Flora (normal organisms)
11. Gas Station Pump
-Human Flora (normal organisms)
12. Porta-Potti
-Human Flora (normal organisms)
- Traces of Fecal matter

* All of the items showed trace amounts of staphylococcus

Bacteria are tiny, single-celled organisms that get nutrients from their environments. In some cases, that environment is your child or some other living being. Some bacteria are good for your child's body - they help keep the digestive system in working order and keep harmful bacteria from moving in. Some bacteria are used to produce medicines and vaccines. But bacteria can cause trouble, too, like cavities, urinary tract infections.
Viruses can't survive, grow, and reproduce unless your child, another person, or an animal puts up rental space. Viruses can only live for a very short time outside other living cells. For example, they can stay on surfaces like a countertop or toilet seat, in infected bodily fluids for a short period of time, but they quickly die there unless a live host comes along. Once they've moved into your child's body, though, viruses spread easily and can make your child sick. Viruses are responsible for some minor sicknesses like colds, as well as extremely serious diseases like smallpox or HIV/AIDS.
Fungi are multi-celled, plant-like organisms that usually aren't dangerous in a healthy person. Fungi get nutrition from plants, food, and animals in damp, warm environments. Two common fungal infections include athlete's foot and yeast infections. People who have weakened immune systems (from diseases like HIV or cancer) may develop more serious fungal infections.
Protozoa are one-celled organisms like bacteria. Protozoa love moisture, so intestinal infections and other diseases they cause are often spread through contaminated water.
Once organisms like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa invade your child's body, they get ready to stay for a while. These germs draw all their energy from the host. They may damage or destroy healthy cells. As they use up your nutrients and energy, most will produce waste products, known as toxins.

Staphylococcus Aureus:
Conditions known as staph infections are those caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. Many healthy people carry staph bacteria in their noses without getting sick. But when the skin is punctured or broken, staph bacteria can enter the wound and cause infections, which can lead to other health problems.
You can help prevent your child from developing a staph infection by encouraging regular hand washing, keeping your child's skin clean with a daily bath, and keeping areas that have been cut clean or covered.

From: www.kidshealth.org


E. coli is a common type of bacteria that can get into food, like beef and vegetables. E. coli is short for the medical term Escherichia coli. The strange thing about these bacteria - and lots of other bacteria - is that they're not always harmful to you.
E. coli normally lives inside your intestines, where it helps your body break down and digest the food you eat. Unfortunately, certain types (called strains) of E. coli can get from the intestines into the blood. This is a rare illness, but it can cause a very serious infection.
Someone who has E. coli infection may have these symptoms:

fever and chills
bad stomach cramps and belly pain
diarrhea, sometimes with blood in it

One very bad strain of E. coli was found in fresh spinach in 2006 and some fast-food hamburgers in 1993. Beef can contain E. coli because the bacteria often infect cattle. It can be in meat that comes from cattle and it's also in their poop, called manure. Cow poop in your food? How does that happen? Not on purpose, of course, but it can happen if the manure is used for fertilizer (a common practice to help crops grow) or if water contaminated with E. coli is used to irrigate the crops.

Foods to Watch

E. coli can be passed from person to person, but serious E. coli infection is more often linked to food containing the bacteria. The person eats the contaminated food and gets sick.
Here are some foods that can cause E. coli poisoning:
undercooked ground beef (used for hamburgers)
vegetables grown in cow manure or washed in contaminated water
juice that isn't pasteurized (pasteurization is a process that uses heat to kill germs)
Heat can kill E. coli, so experts recommend that people cook beef (especially ground beef) until it is cooked through and no longer pink. Choosing pasteurized juice is another way to avoid possible infection.

Hand-Washing - Topic Overview

Hand-washing is a simple and effective way to help prevent diseases, such as colds, flu, and food poisoning.
When to wash your hands
Washing hands:
Often, especially during cold and flu (influenza ) season, can reduce your risk of catching or spreading a cold or the flu.
Before and after preparing or serving food reduces your risk of catching or spreading bacteria that cause food poisoning. Be especially careful to wash before and after preparing poultry, raw eggs, meat, or seafood.
After going to the bathroom or changing diapers reduces your risk of catching or spreading infectious diseases such as salmonella or hepatitis A .
Wash your hands after:
Eating or snacking.
Handling money.
Touching your ears, nose, or mouth.
Blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
Touching your pets.
Any kind of cleaning or hand contact with dirty equipment or work surfaces.
Caring for someone who is sick or injured.
Taking out the garbage.
Using the bathroom.
Changing diapers.
Proper hand-washing
Use warm or hot water when possible. Cold water is not as effective for killing bacteria on your hands.
Wet your hands and wrists completely under the running water.
Apply a small dab of liquid soap. If you use bar soap, you rinse it off before you use it.
Work up a good lather and wash all of the surfaces of your skin, including the wrist, palms, backs of your hands, fingers, and fingernails. Wash your hands for at least 15 to 20 seconds.
Rinse your hands thoroughly.
Dry your hands. Use your paper towel to turn off the water after you have finished.
If soap and water are not available, use gel hand sanitizers or alcohol-based hand wipes. Most supermarkets and drugstores carry these products. Carry one or both with you when you travel, and keep them in your car or purse.
If using the gel sanitizer, rub your hands until the gel is dry. You don't need to use water; the alcohol in the gel kills the germs on your hands.

From: www.webmd.com

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