Choosing Cleaners, Sanitizers, and Disinfectants: What Schools and Other Institutions Should Consider

We are all familiar with cleaners, those handy products that help us remove visible debris, dirt, and dust from surfaces. Cleaners play an important role in building maintenance, but they cannot consistently eliminate disease-causing microorganisms (pathogens), such as bacteria and viruses on surfaces. Sanitizers and disinfectants are the antimicrobial products made to destroy those. Disinfectants are used to help halt the spread of infectious illnesses, such as colds, flu, norovirus, and resistant organisms such as MRSA. These infectious illnesses and outbreaks can devastate student or worker attendance and productivity in any institution.

How to Sanitize Ball Pit Balls to Help Prevent the Spread of Infection

Children love to play in ball pits whether for fun or as part of a physical therapy. When I see them gleefully navigating those tubs of colorful spheres, it occurs to me they are engaging in a form of “dry swimming.” In place of water, they “swim” through a medium of lightweight plastic balls. Unlike swimming pool water, however, there is no standard method to treat ball pit balls to help prevent the spread of infectious illness. Based on recent research that identified a host of pathogens in pediatric therapy ball pits, I suggest the time to evaluate the need for such guidance is now.

Promoting Food Safety Tips in Recipes

I enjoy cooking, and I have several dog-eared cookbooks and food-stained index cards featuring the recipes for many of my family’s favorite dishes. I also enjoy trying out recipes I find in magazines, newspapers, or online. Recipes are an indispensable tool for cooks, helping us perform the “kitchen chemistry” that transforms ingredients into delicious, “table-ready” meals. But implicit in most recipes is the notion that cooks know how to handle raw products, including produce, poultry, fish, and meat, safely. Based on data on foodborne illness outbreaks from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of us may not actually be that savvy about food safety.

Measles Outbreak of 2019: Symptoms, Transmission, and Vaccines

 Measles Returns In 2000, measles was declared eradicated from the U.S. Unfortunately, it is back. Measles outbreaks have been on the rise since 2008, and currently several states, including New York, Washington, Texas, Illinois, and California, are experiencing outbreaks. Measles is a highly contagious disease that can cause serious illness including death. According to

Food Recalls in the United States: Examining the Data

The U.S. food supply is among the safest in the world, thanks to a multitude of protective measures all along the path from “the farm to the fork.” Many of these measures are illustrated in the Food Safety Pyramid in Figure 1. One of these, food recalls, helps warn consumers when contaminated food has made

Infection Control in Intensive Care Units: A Focus on Sink Drains

Healthcare associated infections (HAIs) affect about one in 31 hospital patients in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Eliminating HAIs is an important public health goal, and one that researchers can help meet by generating the scientific data that lead to “best practices” and engineering solutions that help

Emergency Preparedness: How to Prepare to Shelter in Place

Emergencies generally require one of two responses: “shelter in place” or “get out of Dodge.” Sheltering in place is appropriate when it is safer to stay in your home than to leave it, such as during a pandemic flu outbreak or period of civil unrest. But leaving in a hurry is the right thing to do in advance of forest fires, hurricanes or floods. Most of us can predict based on our geographic location (and perhaps past experience) which type of emergencies we are most likely to face.

Tracking Seasonal Flu in Real Time

Has the flu made an appearance in your household this season? Flu is not a reportable disease in most areas of the U.S., so only estimates of numbers of cases and related medical visits are possible. Preliminary reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note that between October 1, 2018, and January 26, 2019, there were between 10.1 and 11.7 million cases of flu in the U.S., at least 4.7 million flu-related medical visits, and up to 141,000 hospitalizations. Although CDC has been making these “in-season” flu estimates since 2010, reporting them to the public in real time is new as of this season. The estimates are made using mathematical models based on rates of laboratory confirmed flu-related hospitalizations.

Quarantine, Isolation, and an Escape from a Little Rock Yellow Fever Epidemic

Family lore has it that during a yellow fever epidemic in Little Rock in the 1890s, my maternal grandmother’s family escaped the quarantined city via a flat boat, probably along the Arkansas River to the Mississippi River. The story goes that under the cover of darkness, great grandfather Nathan slipped the boat under a blockading chain across the Mississippi and spirited his wife Jennie, their children, and the rest of the family away from the outbreak. The family returned to Little Rock when the epidemic was over, and Nathan and Jennie’s daughter, Gida, my grandmother, went on to graduate from college in 1911, a rare feat for a woman in those days.

How to Clean and Sanitize Your Laundry to Help Prevent the Spread of Pathogens at Home

Laundry chores are a fact of life. From emptying the clothes hamper to sorting, washing, drying, (maybe ironing), and storing clothes and linens for later use, these chores comprise a seemingly endless cycle of mind-numbing activities. But researchers tell us there is good reason to give laundry some careful thought. Why Sanitize Laundry? Did you