Back to School: How to Help Prevent the Spread of Germs in the Classroom

As students return to the classroom with brand-new backpacks and high hopes for a good academic year, an invisible army of microbes is preparing an attack on the little learners. Legions of cold and flu viruses are determined to circulate through the “student body” in a show of force that will make school PTA newsletter

Candida auris Infections: What You Need to Know about This Growing Global Health Threat

A drug-resistant fungus originally identified in the ear of an elderly woman in Japan in 2009 is raising global health concerns. Candida auris, or “C. auris” (“auris” is Latin for “ear”), is a yeast that is considered an “emerging” pathogen because of rising numbers of infections reported around the globe. C. auris infections are common in medical centers, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities among people who are already ill. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports nearly half of all people who contract the fungal disease die within 90 days. CDC tracks C. auris cases reported in the U.S.

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.

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

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.

Paper Towel vs. Electric Hand Dryers in Public Restrooms: Which is Best?

Consider the public restroom. We may be a bit concerned about how sanitary it is, but when nature calls while we are out and about, the facility is a welcome sight. But how do we utilize public restrooms with minimum risk to our health? Automatic flush toilets, no-touch water faucets, electric hand dryers, and automatic

Virus-Associated Mystery Syndrome on the Rise: Acute Flaccid Myelitis

Named for its symptoms, acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a polio-like, paralyzing neurological condition that primarily afflicts young children aged 2 to 8 years. Although very rare, confirmed cases of AFM have spiked sharply since 2014, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) first noted the increase (see box). Available clinical, laboratory, and other evidence all suggest a viral association, and over 90% of confirmed cases had a mild respiratory illness or fever consistent with a viral infection before developing AFM. CDC is working closely with healthcare providers as well as state and local health departments to investigate and confirm AFM cases, including possible causes, risk factors, and potential treatment options. Yet because much about AFM remains a mystery—including why a small but growing number of people develop AFM after a viral infection while most others recover—some parents and doctors have grown impatient with CDC.

Flu Season: What You Need to Know to Stay Healthy

Flu season has arrived. Although we can’t predict how severe it will be, we know that last season was deadlier than many of the recent past. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website reports annual flu deaths in the U.S. range between approximately 12,000 and 56,000 people. During the 2017-2018 flu season, however,

The Great 1918 Flu Pandemic and its Impact on Louisville

Sisters who served in the emergency hospitals, Camp Zachary Taylor, Louisville, KY, with Father Regis Barrett Photo courtesy of University of Louisville Photo Archives This year marks the centenary of the Great 1918 Flu Pandemic, a period of worldwide illness and death that overlapped and intertwined with the terror of World War I. The flu