Stop Flushing With Your Foot, or: Germ Avoidance “Tricks” That Don’t Work

Perhaps you were as grossed out as we were by that recent Weill Cornell Medical College study that showed New York City’s subway system to be teeming with bacteria. Over an 18-month period, geneticist Christopher Mason and his team collected DNA from handrails, kiosks, seats, and turnstiles across the MTA to reveal a lush, invisible ecosystem containing more than 15,000 different kinds of microbial life. Ick, right?

Thankfully, the study also showed that the vast majority of bacteria found in the subway were harmless or even beneficial to humans. These “good” bacteria might come from food, remove toxins from the environment, or outcompete disease-causing pathogens lurking on surfaces. “That means more [bacterial] diversity, by the odds, would be a good thing,” Mason says.

Source: Pretty Much All of Your Weird Germ-Avoidance Behaviors Are Pointless

Hipster CDC Reports Flu Epidemic Peaked Years Ago

Gloves, tissue, etc – whatever you use to create a barrier between you and what you intend to handle…  It’s moot if you end up handling the surface that came into contact with a contaminated object.

Depending on what you are wearing a mask for, it’s not worth the time.  Most aren’t rated for germs/bacteria you’d be exposed to, and the ones that are – they require a solid fit to ensure quality.  That means no facial hair, guys.  As for what you’re exposed to – the percentage of particles is so vast and minute, some claim we’re breathing particles from Napoleon’s last breath.  In the outdoors, wind patterns can take things further than we’d believed.  Chernobyl demonstrated this when crops and animals throughout the world had higher levels of radiation…

The toilet?  The gross part is that the handle isn’t the issue, as the flush will distribute germs, bacteria, and fecal matter everywhere.  Closing the lid helps somewhat…  But we weren’t meant to use the toilet anyhow.

Germs aren’t a real health hazard; there are germs everywhere in your life, and the ones in bathrooms aren’t significantly more numerous or more dangerous than the rest. The best ways to steer clear of cold and flu germs (the most likely threats anywhere) are to:

  • wash your hands
  • avoid touching your face
  • support your immune system by not smoking and by exercising, eating, and sleeping well

Is It an Outbreak or Epidemic?

Outbreak has Dustin Hoffman…

More than 8,000 people have died from Ebola in West Africa since February 2014 and it has spread beyond the three countries initially affected. So, it’s an epidemic, right? Or is it an outbreak?

Source: Explainer: what’s the difference between an outbreak and an epidemic?

An illness is “going around” when a lot of people around me have it, and reaches “epidemic” when I have it.  On a more serious note: There is a difference between an epidemic and a pandemic – a pandemic is a worldwide event.

Living with ‘Sleeping Beauty’ Syndrome

It is a neurological disorder, and it’s episodic — sufferers can go months or even years between episodes, which can last between a few days and more than a month.   During an episode, areas of the brain get temporarily bogged down.  Not always the same areas or severity, depending on the episode. So behaviour is affected, as well as perceptions – basically a bad trip.  Hypersexuality is a reality during an episode, which is extra creepy when coupled with childlike behavior.

The sleep isn’t refreshing – often sufferers wake still tired.  This girl actually slept for 21 days straight, using the restroom and eating in a non-conscious state that is more similar to sleep walking than being awake.  Narcolepsy, hypersomnia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) sufferers experience similar time loss.

Related: KLS Foundation

How Treating One Disease Can Unleash Another

Buffalo live a long time, and they live together in big social groups. This makes them surprisingly good models for human diseases. When researchers treated one malady in buffalo, they discovered a surprising downside — they made them worse, but in a totally different way.

Source: How Treating One Disease Can Unleash Another

The article alludes to quarantine being the solution.  Which works after you know there’s a problem…

There’s also the matter of the fine line between quarantine and internment.  For some odd reason, Japanese internment in Canada and the US is a lesser known fact (and blemish).  But in reality, Germans and Italians were also interned.  More importantly, the interned got released to find out their homes, belongings and businesses had been sold — without having received compensation.  Being designated for quarantine is something that the public generally will not argue with …when it’s not them.

Wikipedia: Helping Scientists Predict the Spread of Disease

Since its launch in 2001, Wikipedia has become the sixth most visited site in the world. Researchers reported the site contains around 30 million articles in 287 languages and it serves roughly 850 million article requests per day. More importantly, it’s a free, open source of data that is gaining traction as an “effective and timely disease surveillance.”

Source: Wikipedia Positioned To Track Disease Outbreak: The Model That Could Rival Current Resources

Given the long standing joke about people – hypochondriacs – googling their illness (physical or mental), I have to think there’s too much false positive for this to be of any value.  The signal to noise ratio…

New Test Works By Dripping Urine down a Tube

A team of chemists at Brigham Young University have developed a remarkably simple and cheap lab-on-a-chip test that can accurately detect markers of serious conditions like kidney disease or even prostate cancer using nothing but a drop of urine the and the perpetual pull of gravity.

Source: Scientists Can Detect Disease By Dripping Urine Down This Tiny Tube

A quick, cheap, non-invasive test?  Awesome.

Study: The Coffee Pot has the Most Germs

If you’re in a shared office environment, you probably wash you hands after using the restroom. That’s good hygiene, but you might consider washing your hands after touching the coffee pot. A recent study determined that it’s a “hot zone” in your office.

Source: The Most Germ-Infested Item in the Office Might Be the Coffee Pot

Anything that multiple people come into contact with is cause for germ exposure.  The handles for the hot/cold water, the door knob… Telephones too, but personal cell phones are putting a dent in that.  On a related note, the fist bump is more healthy than shaking hands because although contact is being made – it’s not where most of the germs are.

Hipster CDC Reports Flu Epidemic Peaked Years Ago

If you’re already sick, or feel like something is coming on – look to eat foods high in vitamin C.  There are foods with higher concentrations of vitamin C than oranges, and they’re low in vitamin K (if any at all).

Don’t forget that we live because of symbiosis with bacteria

Exercise: THE Anti-Ageing Pill

Muscle loss is no longer seen as just a side effect of disease and frailty – it’s also a prime cause. As well as contributing to falls, muscle loss has serious knock-on effects on metabolism (see “Life-saving muscle”). In future, muscle-boosting drugs could aid those unable to maintain muscle mass through exercise such as weight training. Although researchers stress this isn’t about bodybuilding, but keeping muscles in your limbs at a healthy level.

Source: Exercise may be the best anti-ageing pill

I rather dislike that the article goes on about drugs/pills/medication research.  Doing some exercise – running is actually quite good for you but you do need to do at least an hour for a benefit.  A yoga or Pilates class would likely do wonders.  They stress that exercise does not mean over-exaggeration to the point of taking up body building.

The article mentions calcium – here’s a link with a run down of calcium details, including food source information.  It’s likely to be difficult for those who avoid dairy, and vegan is an additional complication due to avoiding fish.

The key will always be to figure out what works for you.