Cleaning vs. Disinfecting: What’s the Difference?

We all want to live in a clean indoor environment, but of course there are degrees of “clean” and different requirements for “clean,” depending on the living space targeted. The “clean your room” chore given to children generally refers to straightening up and organizing stray objects into drawers, closets and onto shelves. It might involve

Help Resist Flu by Washing and Drying Your Hands Appropriately

Which to use: Electric air dryer or paper towels? You may be better off drying your hands with paper towels. It is January and the flu season is off to its earliest start in 10 years (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)). CDC currently reports that 41 states have widespread influenza activity as of

Staying One Step Ahead of Legionnaires’ Disease

Two large Quebec City buildings and a Chicago hotel are reported sites of exposure to Legionella bacteria that resulted in over 100 recent cases of Legionnaires’ disease and 13 deaths. In Quebec City, officials suspect building cooling systems became colonized with high numbers of the bacteria (CNN Health report), causing ten deaths and 165 cases

Cholera in the Caribbean

In the wake of heavy rains, Cuba has been visited for the first time in 130 years by an old public health enemy:  cholera.  According to CNN, the problem may have begun when floodwater contaminated drinking water wells with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae (CNN video).  The outbreak appears to be limited mainly to the eastern

A Microbe Census of the Human Body

About ten thousand species of microbes inhabit the human body, many of which are critical to our health and survival. Our bodies are actually their own microbial ecosystems comprising bacteria, virus and fungi populations in the trillions. There are ten times as many microbe cells found on surfaces in and on the human body as

Doctor, Nurse: Have You Washed Your Hands?

It’s a well-known fact that hand-washing is one of the most important measures for reducing the spread of infection. Yet, healthcare workers, of all people, often fail to wash their hands!  One potential approach to this problem is to encourage patients, before submitting to treatment, to confirm verbally that doctors and nurses have indeed washed

Hand-washing and the Role of Feedback in Hygiene Strategies

Can video cameras be used to encourage health care workers to wash their hands? Yes, according to one study, but only if video-monitoring is combined with continuous feedback to workers. Feedback, that is, as in progress displayed on electronic boards mounted in hospital hallways! Are there other uses for the monitor and feedback approach? Hand-washing

Tackling C. diff

Here’s a troubling statistic: Over 165,000 patients will acquire Clostridium difficile (“C. diff’) infections while in US hospitals this year. This organism has become a top hospital-acquired pathogen in the US. “Clostridium difficile,” is a spore-forming bacterium that can live in the lower gastrointestinal tract of some humans and is shed in feces. Persons hosting

A Public Health Gift for the Children in Your Life

This holiday season the Water Quality & Health Council hopes you will enjoy the good cheer of family and friends. Seeing the little ones is one of the special joys of the season. Naturally, we want them to be healthy and avoid the colds and flu that seem to run rampant at this time of

Neti Pots, Naegleria and Your Health

Naegleria fowleri Image used with permission of Dr. Francine Marciano-Cabral, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine. Neti pot1 use is being blamed for the deaths of two Louisiana residents who developed a rare fatal brain infection after using the device to clear their sinuses (The Advocate article). The infections are believed to have been caused