Tag Archives: E. coli

Straight, No Chaser: Sealed with a (Wrong Type of) Kiss – Zoonotic Diseases

zoonosisdoglick

It’s interesting how we take animals for granted. Many of us touch and handle them, play with them. Some people keep their pets in their faces, allowing them to kiss and lick them. Do you ever think about where they’ve been and whether they are ill and contagious? Would you be surprised if I told you that approximately 60% of the bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms that cause human disease originates from animals?

 zoonosis

That’s right. There are many diseases that animals have that can be transmitted to humans. These groups of diseases are called Zoonoses. It’s at least worth giving it some thought; many of these diseases don’t even require direct contact with the affected animal. Even more concerning is the fact that about 75% of newly emergent infectious diseases affecting humans are of animal origin.
We spend a lot of time in places where infected animals and insects may exist. Besides exposures in relatively exotic areas such as farms, woods, nature parks and petting zoos, simpler environments such as pet stores, fairs, schools and childcare facilities may also prove to be risky.

 zoonosisdeer

Many different types of animals pose these risks, including rodents, amphibians, live poultry, reptiles, insects and an assortment of domestic and wild animals. Here are a few examples (but not an exhaustive list) of how disease may spread that have been particularly common in the news of late.

  • Many animals carry rabies, including bats, raccoons, foxes, skunks, wolves, coyotes, cattle, monkeys, mongooses and dogs.
  • Reptiles such as turtles, iguanas and snakes can transmit Salmonella, a prominent cause of food poisoning.
  • Handling your cat’s kitty litter (or otherwise handling stool) can transmit toxoplasmosis, an infection that can be deadly to those with weakened immune systems or to unborn children.
  • West Nile has been in the news every year this millennium, causing over 1.5 million infections in humans since 1999.
  • Deer and deer mice carry ticks that can lead to Lyme disease, a bacterial infection involving a rash, fever, chills, body aches and possible arthritis, neurological and cardiac disorders.
  • Other common infections caused by these exposures include anthrax, dengue, Ebola hemorrhagic fever, E. coli infection, malaria, Plague and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

If you’re a good pet owner (and otherwise healthy), you shouldn’t have to worry about this much. Simple steps such as keeping your pets’ shots up to date, keeping their play areas clean, avoiding direct contact with wildlife and maintaining basic hygiene measures such as hand washing after contact sufficiently lowers your risk. Here are a few additional tips:

  • Keep tabs on your kids to ensure they wash their hands properly and avoid thumb-sucking, eating and pacifier use after animal contact and before cleaning up.
  • Use insect repellents that contain 20% or more DEET on the exposed skin and be generous with it when in risky areas.
  • Use products that contain repellents (such as permethrin) on your clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents.
  • Look for and remove ticks from your and your children’s bodies.
  • Limit mosquito breeding grounds around your home by getting rid of items that hold still water.
  • Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
    Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
    Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
    Copyright © 2018 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

urinary_tractkids

Ladies, have you ever been told that you get “bladder infections” because you didn’t wipe front to back instead of back to front? Men, have you ever been told that this could be a sign that your prostate needs to be examined? This Straight, No Chaser answers simple questions on urinary tract infections (UTIs). With over 8 millions cases and 100,000 hospitalizations a year due to these, it’s information you should know.

 Urinary-tract-anatomy

What is a urinary tract infection (UTI)? Is it the same as a bladder infection?
What these questions really ask is “What is the urinary tract?” The body’s drainage system serves to remove excess fluid and bodily waste. It includes the following organs:

  • The kidneys serve to filter blood and produce approximately 1-2 quarts of urine per day as a result of this process.
  • The ureters are tubes extending from the kidneys to the bladder, carrying filtered urine within them.
  • The bladder is the pouch within which you store urine until you’re ready to release it.
  • The urethra is a tube at the bottom of the bladder through which urine gets expelled.

A UTI is an infection anywhere along this path. Infections at different parts of the urinary tract can display different symptoms and have different complications.
What causes a UTI?
Bacteria are the most common cause of UTIs, particularly those that live in the bowel (such as E. coli) and are within or in close proximity to the vagina. Under most circumstances the body is very effective at removing bacteria and other microorganisms from the urinary tract (urinating just washes them out!), but some of us are at increased risk due to diminished defenses or other circumstances in which these microorganisms can grow.

 utianatomy

Why do women get UTIs, and it seems like men don’t?
It is true that women get UTIs about four times more frequently than men, but anyone of any age or sex can be infected. Here are some reasons why.

  • Women have a shorter urethra, which makes it easier for bacteria to reach the bladder.
  • Also, the opening of a woman’s urethra is near the vagina and anus, where bacteria live.
  • Women who use a diaphragm are also more likely to get UTIs than women who use other forms of birth control.
  • The male prostate produces secretions that slow bacterial growth.

Are there other risk factors for UTIs? 
Yes. Others at higher risk for UTIs include the following.

  • those having diabetes or have lowered immune systems
  • those habitually needing a tube to drain their bladder
  • those with urinary tract abnormalities that block the flow of urine
  • those with spinal cord injuries or other nerve damage

Additionally, once a man has a UTI, it’s more likely he’ll have the problem again because the bacteria are extremely difficult to reach once they set up shop in the male prostate.
Are UTIs serious?
Unless you describe the annoying symptoms as serious, most UTIs are not serious. However, UTIs can lead to severe complications if left untreated, including the following:

  • Long lasting or recurrent kidney infections can cause permanent damage and scarring to the kidneys, which can create insufficient kidney function and produce high blood pressure and other problems.
  • Kidney infections can enter the blood stream and become life threatening.

 Urinary-Tract-Infection

What are the signs and symptoms of a UTI?
You should see your physician if you develop any of the following signs or symptoms:

  • A burning sensation with urination
  • Bloody, cloudy, dark or otherwise discolored urine
  • Fever or chills
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Frequent or urgent need to urinate, regardless of the amount actually expressed
  • Pain in your back or side below the ribs

How are UTIs diagnosed?
UTIs are diagnosed based both on symptoms and a lab test. Many of you have experienced your urine being sent to a lab from the emergency room or your doctor’s office. Based on a combination of symptoms, the presence of bacteria and white blood cells that have accumulated to fight the infection, the diagnosis will be made. If you have frequent infections, infections that don’t respond well to treatment, atypical presentations or are sick enough to be hospitalized, your urine may be cultured in an effort to grow the bacteria causing your symptoms. This allows more precise treatment regimens to be given. In other circumstances, tests may be done to check the normalcy of your urinary tract, including an ultrasound or CT scan. Further details on when and why this would be done is available on www.sterlingmedicaladvice.com.
An additional Straight, No Chaser will discuss prevention and treatment options for UTIs.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Understanding Food Poisoning (Foodborne Illness)

FoodPoisoning

We make a decision with everything we place into our mouths. We also exhibit a large amount of trust that the food we eat is safe. Most of the time that’s true, but unfortunately sometimes it’s not. Here are some questions and answers to understanding the scope of food poisoning.
How frequent is food poisoning?
According to 2011 data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year in the U.S. approximately 1 in 6 Americans (almost 50 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.

food poisoning

What causes food poisoning?
Over 250 different foodborne diseases have been described, most of which are infections. The most common foodborne illnesses are caused by norovirus and by the bacteria SalmonellaClostridium perfringens, and CampylobacterStaph Aureus (yes, that Staph) is another prominent but less common cause of food poisoning. Poisonous chemicals or other harmful substances can cause foodborne diseases if present in food.
What are the most common symptoms of food poisoning?
Even though there are many different foodborne diseases, they share a commonality of entering your system through your gastrointestinal tract. As a result, the first symptoms are caused and expressed from there and typically include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

foodpoisoning traceback_900px

Why do foodborne diseases seem to occur in outbreaks?
Actually, the overwhelming majority of cases of food poisoning don’t occur in outbreaks, but of course you wouldn’t know that because having diarrhea is not something people typically will tell you… When outbreaks occur, it’s because a group of people happened to eat the same contaminated item. This would explain how instances of groups of friends or strangers could have been involved. Contamination that occur closest to the food supply’s distribution result in the widest outbreaks. Look at the above picture. If contaminated food from the producer makes it all the way through the distribution chain, individuals in multiple states could end up with the same infection.

   foodpoisoningfoodsimage

What foods are most associated with foodborne illness?

  • Foods that mingle the products of many individual animals: Raw milk, pooled raw eggs and ground beef have increased risk because contamination in any one of the multiple animals involved can contaminate the entire mixture.
  • Raw foods of animal origin: Foods such as meat, poultry, shellfish, eggs and unpasteurized milk are the most likely foods to be contaminated.
  • Raw fruits and vegetables: Washing reduces but doesn’t eliminate pre-existing contamination, such as that occurring from the fresh manure that fertilizes vegetables. Furthermore, water itself may be contaminated.
  • Shellfish: Because “filter-feeding” shellfish strain microorganisms from the sea over many months, they are particularly likely to be contaminated if there are any in the seawater.

An additional Straight, No Chaser will discuss treatment options. Refer to this post for preventative tips.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Food Contamination and Protecting Yourself From Foodborne Illness

foodsafety

Those of you who are regular readers of Straight, No Chaser may have heard me say that everything you place in your mouth either harms or helps you. Your mouth is the direct point of entry to your body. You should be concerned about the substances you ingest. Today’s post begins a Straight, No Chaser series that will discuss food safety, food poisoning, prevention and treatment of food borne illnesses – just in time for you to correctly handle all of those holiday leftovers! Today we start with food safety.
Allow me to suggest that bacteria are as much (if not more) of a part of this world as humans, and it is to be expected that they would be present in our food supply. Our issues are when does present become contaminated, and when does contaminated become illness? Understanding these issues makes it easier to take appropriate preventative and treatment measures when needed.

foodcontam

Here are some examples of how our food becomes contaminated.

  • Microorganisms (e.g. bacterial, viruses) exist in the intestines of healthy animals, even those raised for human consumption. Even a small amount of spillage of intestinal contents during slaughter can lead to contamination.
  • Fruits and vegetables can be contaminated when washed or irrigated with contaminated water (which sometimes contains animal manure or human sewage).
  • Salmonella can infect a hen’s ovary (remember the ovaries produce eggs) so that the contents of a normal-appearing egg can be contaminated even before the shell is formed.
  • Vibrio bacteria are normally present in seawater. Oysters and other shellfish can develop concentrations of Vibrio high enough to cause infections.
  • Microorganisms such as norovirus can concentrate in human sewage that is dumped into the sea. This contaminates the water supply.
  • Infected food handlers and food conditions pass microorganisms on to customers. Examples of this include Shigella bacteria, hepatitis A virus and norovirus. Knives, other utensils and table surfaces also are methods of transferring disease when unclean.
  • When certain foods are left out (i.e. not refrigerated), minimal contamination can become highly infectious in a matter of hours due to rapid growth of microorganisms. Conversely, in most instances refrigeration or freezing prevents virtually all bacteria from growing. Certain other foods (e.g. salted meats, jams, pickled vegetables) require high salt, sugar or acid levels to prevent bacterial growth.
  • When certain foods are adequately cooked (the ideal internal temperature is 160 degrees Fahrenheit), most microorganisms will be killed.

Food-Safety

Protecting yourself from foodborne illness
Professionals in public health, industry, governmental regulatory agencies, and academic research have roles to play in making the food supply less contaminated. So do you. I would like to advocate for one simple step for you to take as you shop for food that will promote food safety.

  • Buying pasteurized milk rather than raw unpasteurized milk prevents an enormous number of foodborne diseases every day and has done so for 100 years. Juice pasteurization has more recently proven to be important in preventing certain E. coli infections. Basically, you can lower your risk by purchasing pasteurized products.

Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, here are some additional simple precautions to reduce the risk of foodborne diseases:
COOK: Cook your meat, poultry and eggs thoroughly.

  • Using a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of meat is a good way to be sure that it is cooked sufficiently to kill bacteria. Remember, the internal temperature of meat should be above 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Eggs should be cooked until the yolk is firm.

SEPARATE: Don’t cross-contaminate one food with another.

  • Avoid cross-contaminating foods by washing hands, utensils and cutting boards after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry and before they touch another food.
  • Put cooked meat on a clean platter, rather back on one that held the pre-cooked, raw meat.

CHILLRefrigerate leftovers promptly.

  • Bacteria can grow quickly at room temperature, so refrigerate leftover foods if they are not going to be eaten within 4 hours.
  • Large volumes of food will cool more quickly if they are divided into several shallow containers for refrigeration.

CLEANWash produce.

  • Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables in running tap water to remove visible dirt and grime.
  • Remove and discard the outermost leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage.
  • Because bacteria can grow well on the cut surface of fruit or vegetable, be careful not to contaminate these foods while slicing them up on the cutting board, and avoid leaving cut produce at room temperature for many hours.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before preparing food and before touching others.
  • Avoid preparing food for others if you yourself have a diarrheal illness.
  • Changing a baby’s diaper while preparing food is a bad idea that can easily spread illness.

REPORT: Report suspected foodborne illnesses to your local health department.

  • Calls from concerned citizens are often how outbreaks are first detected. Play your part.
  • If a public health official contacts you to find out more about an illness you had, your cooperation is important. In public health investigations, it can be as important to talk to healthy people as to ill people.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Sealed with a (Wrong Type of) Kiss – Zoonotic Diseases

zoonosisdoglick

It’s interesting how we take animals for granted. Many of us touch and handle them, play with them. Some people keep their pets in their faces, allowing them to kiss and lick them. Do you ever think about where they’ve been and whether they are ill and contagious? Would you be surprised if I told you that approximately 60% of the bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms that cause human disease originates from animals?

 zoonosis

That’s right. There are many diseases that animals have that can be transmitted to humans. These groups of diseases are called zoonoses. It’s at least worth giving it some thought; many of these diseases don’t even require direct contact with the affected animal. Even more concerning is the fact that about 75% of newly emergent infectious diseases affecting humans are of animal origin.
We spend a lot of time in places where infected animals and insects may exist. Besides exposures in relatively exotic areas such as farms, woods, nature parks and petting zoos, simpler environments such as pet stores, fairs, schools and childcare facilities may also prove to be risky.

 zoonosisdeer

Many different types of animals pose these risks, including rodents, amphibians, live poultry, reptiles, insects and an assortment of domestic and wild animals. Here are a few examples (but not an exhaustive list) of how disease may spread that have been particularly common in the news of late.

  • Many animals carry rabies, including bats, raccoons, foxes, skunks, wolves, coyotes, cattle, monkeys, mongooses and dogs.
  • Reptiles such as turtles, iguanas and snakes can transmit Salmonella, a prominent cause of food poisoning.
  • Handling your cat’s kitty litter (or otherwise handling stool) can transmit toxoplasmosis, an infection that can be deadly to those with weakened immune systems or to unborn children.
  • West Nile has been in the news every year this millennium, causing over 1.5 million infections in humans since 1999.
  • Deer and deer mice carry ticks that can lead to Lyme disease, a bacterial infection involving a rash, fever, chills, body aches and possible arthritis, neurological and cardiac disorders.
  • Other common infections caused by these exposures include anthrax, dengue, Ebola hemorrhagic fever, E. coli infection, malaria, Plague and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

If you’re a good pet owner (and otherwise healthy), you shouldn’t have to worry about this much. Simple steps such as keeping your pets’ shots up to date, keeping their play areas clean, avoiding direct contact with wildlife and maintaining basic hygiene measures such as hand washing after contact sufficiently lowers your risk. Here are a few additional tips:

  • Keep tabs on your kids to ensure they wash their hands properly and avoid thumb-sucking, eating and pacifier use after animal contact and before cleaning up.
  • Use insect repellents that contain 20% or more DEET on the exposed skin and be generous with it when in risky areas.
  • Use products that contain repellents (such as permethrin) on your clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents.
  • Look for and remove ticks from your and your children’s bodies.
  • Limit mosquito breeding grounds around your home by getting rid of items that hold still water.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Understanding Food Poisoning (Foodborne Illness)

FoodPoisoning

We make a decision with everything we place into our mouths. We also exhibit a large amount of trust that the food we eat is safe. Most of the time that’s true, but unfortunately sometimes it’s not. Here are some questions and answers to understanding the scope of food poisoning.
How frequent is food poisoning?
According to 2011 data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year in the U.S. approximately 1 in 6 Americans (almost 50 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.

food poisoning

What causes food poisoning?
Over 250 different foodborne diseases have been described, most of which are infections. The most common foodborne illnesses are caused by norovirus and by the bacteria SalmonellaClostridium perfringens, and CampylobacterStaph Aureus (yes, that Staph) is another prominent but less common cause of food poisoning. Poisonous chemicals or other harmful substances can cause foodborne diseases if present in food.
What are the most common symptoms of food poisoning?
Even though there are many different foodborne diseases, they share a commonality of entering your system through your gastrointestinal tract. As a result, the first symptoms are caused and expressed from there and typically include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

foodpoisoning traceback_900px

Why do foodborne diseases seem to occur in outbreaks?
Actually, the overwhelming majority of cases of food poisoning don’t occur in outbreaks, but of course you wouldn’t know that because having diarrhea is not something people typically will tell you… When outbreaks occur, it’s because a group of people happened to eat the same contaminated item. This would explain how instances of groups of friends or strangers could have been involved. Contaminations that occur closest to the food supply’s distribution result in the widest outbreaks. Look at the above picture. If contaminated food from the producer makes it all the way through the distribution chain, individuals in multiple states could end up with the same infection.

   foodpoisoningfoodsimage

What foods are most associated with foodborne illness?

  • Foods that mingle the products of many individual animals: Raw milk, pooled raw eggs and ground beef have increased risk because contamination in any one of the multiple animals involved can contaminate the entire mixture.
  • Raw foods of animal origin: Foods such as meat, poultry, shellfish, eggs and unpasteurized milk are the most likely foods to be contaminated.
  • Raw fruits and vegetables: Washing reduces but doesn’t eliminate pre-existing contamination, such as that occurring from the fresh manure that fertilizes vegetables. Furthermore, water itself may be contaminated.
  • Shellfish: Because “filter-feeding” shellfish strain microorganisms from the sea over many months, they are particularly likely to be contaminated if there are any in the seawater.

An additional Straight, No Chaser will discuss treatment options. Refer to this post for preventative tips.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Food Contamination and Protecting Yourself From Foodborne Illness

foodsafety

Those of you who are regular readers of Straight, No Chaser may have heard me say that everything you place in your mouth either harms or helps you. Your mouth is the direct point of entry to your body. You should be concerned about the substances you ingest. Today’s post begins a Straight, No Chaser series that will discuss food safety, food poisoning, prevention and treatment of food borne illnesses – just in time for you to correctly handle all of those holiday leftovers! Today we start with food safety.
Allow me to suggest that bacteria are as much (if not more) of a part of this world as humans, and it is to be expected that they would be present in our food supply. Our issues are when does present become contaminated, and when does contaminated become illness? Understanding these issues makes it easier to take appropriate preventative and treatment measures when needed.

foodcontam

Here are some examples of how our food becomes contaminated.

  • Microorganisms (e.g. bacterial, viruses) exist in the intestines of healthy animals, even those raised for human consumption. Even a small amount of spillage of intestinal contents during slaughter can lead to contamination.
  • Fruits and vegetables can be contaminated when washed or irrigated with contaminated water (which sometimes contains animal manure or human sewage).
  • Salmonella can infect a hen’s ovary (remember the ovaries produce eggs) so that the contents of a normal-appearing egg can be contaminated even before the shell is formed.
  • Vibrio bacteria are normally present in seawater. Oysters and other shellfish can develop concentrations of Vibrio high enough to cause infections.
  • Microorganisms such as norovirus can concentrate in human sewage that is dumped into the sea. This contaminates the water supply.
  • Infected food handlers and food conditions pass microorganisms on to customers. Examples of this include Shigella bacteria, hepatitis A virus and norovirus. Knives, other utensils and table surfaces also are methods of transferring disease when unclean.
  • When certain foods are left out (i.e. not refrigerated), minimal contamination can become highly infectious in a matter of hours due to rapid growth of microorganisms. Conversely, in most instances refrigeration or freezing prevents virtually all bacteria from growing. Certain other foods (e.g. salted meats, jams, pickled vegetables) require high salt, sugar or acid levels to prevent bacterial growth.
  • When certain foods are adequately cooked (the ideal internal temperature is 160 degrees Fahrenheit), most microorganisms will be killed.

Food-Safety

Protecting yourself from foodborne illness
Professionals in public health, industry, governmental regulatory agencies, and academic research have roles to play in making the food supply less contaminated. So do you. I would like to advocate for one simple step for you to take as you shop for food that will promote food safety.

  • Buying pasteurized milk rather than raw unpasteurized milk prevents an enormous number of foodborne diseases every day and has done so for 100 years. Juice pasteurization has more recently proven to be important in preventing certain E. coli infections. Basically, you can lower your risk by purchasing pasteurized products.

Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, here are some additional simple precautions to reduce the risk of foodborne diseases:
COOK: Cook your meat, poultry and eggs thoroughly.

  • Using a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of meat is a good way to be sure that it is cooked sufficiently to kill bacteria. Remember, the internal temperature of meat should be above 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Eggs should be cooked until the yolk is firm.

SEPARATE: Don’t cross-contaminate one food with another.

  • Avoid cross-contaminating foods by washing hands, utensils and cutting boards after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry and before they touch another food.
  • Put cooked meat on a clean platter, rather back on one that held the pre-cooked, raw meat.

CHILLRefrigerate leftovers promptly.

  • Bacteria can grow quickly at room temperature, so refrigerate leftover foods if they are not going to be eaten within 4 hours.
  • Large volumes of food will cool more quickly if they are divided into several shallow containers for refrigeration.

CLEANWash produce.

  • Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables in running tap water to remove visible dirt and grime.
  • Remove and discard the outermost leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage.
  • Because bacteria can grow well on the cut surface of fruit or vegetable, be careful not to contaminate these foods while slicing them up on the cutting board, and avoid leaving cut produce at room temperature for many hours.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before preparing food and before touching others.
  • Avoid preparing food for others if you yourself have a diarrheal illness.
  • Changing a baby’s diaper while preparing food is a bad idea that can easily spread illness.

REPORT: Report suspected foodborne illnesses to your local health department.

  • Calls from concerned citizens are often how outbreaks are first detected. Play your part.
  • If a public health official contacts you to find out more about an illness you had, your cooperation is important. In public health investigations, it can be as important to talk to healthy people as to ill people.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Sealed with a (Wrong Type of) Kiss – Zoonotic Diseases

zoonosisdoglick

It’s interesting how we take animals for granted. Many of us touch and handle them, play with them. Some people keep their pets in their faces, allowing them to kiss and lick them. Do you ever think about where they’ve been and whether they are ill and contagious? Would you be surprised if I told you that approximately 60% of the bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms that cause human disease originates from animals?

 zoonosis

That’s right. There are many diseases that animals have that can be transmitted to humans. These groups of diseases are called zoonoses. It’s at least worth giving it some thought; many of these diseases don’t even require direct contact with the affected animal. Even more concerning is the fact that about 75% of newly emergent infectious diseases affecting humans are of animal origin.
We spend a lot of time in places where infected animals and insects may exist. Besides exposures in relatively exotic areas such as farms, woods, nature parks and petting zoos, simpler environments such as pet stores, fairs, schools and childcare facilities may also prove to be risky.

 zoonosisdeer

Many different types of animals pose these risks, including rodents, amphibians, live poultry, reptiles, insects and an assortment of domestic and wild animals. Here are a few examples (but not an exhaustive list) of how disease may spread that have been particularly common in the news of late.

  • Many animals carry rabies, including bats, raccoons, foxes, skunks, wolves, coyotes, cattle, monkeys, mongooses and dogs.
  • Reptiles such as turtles, iguanas and snakes can transmit Salmonella, a prominent cause of food poisoning.
  • Handling your cat’s kitty litter (or otherwise handling stool) can transmit toxoplasmosis, an infection that can be deadly to those with weakened immune systems or to unborn children.
  • West Nile has been in the news every year this millennium, causing over 1.5 million infections in humans since 1999.
  • Deer and deer mice carry ticks that can lead to Lyme disease, a bacterial infection involving a rash, fever, chills, body aches and possible arthritis, neurological and cardiac disorders.
  • Other common infections caused by these exposures include anthrax, dengue, Ebola hemorrhagic fever, E. coli infection, malaria, Plague and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

If you’re a good pet owner (and otherwise healthy), you shouldn’t have to worry about this much. Simple steps such as keeping your pets’ shots up to date, keeping their play areas clean, avoiding direct contact with wildlife and maintaining basic hygiene measures such as hand washing after contact sufficiently lowers your risk. Here are a few additional tips:

  • Keep tabs on your kids to ensure they wash their hands properly and avoid thumb-sucking, eating and pacifier use after animal contact and before cleaning up.
  • Use insect repellents that contain 20% or more DEET on the exposed skin and be generous with it when in risky areas.
  • Use products that contain repellents (such as permethrin) on your clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents.
  • Look for and remove ticks from your and your children’s bodies.
  • Limit mosquito breeding grounds around your home by getting rid of items that hold still water.

Feel free to ask any questions you may have on this topic.

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Understanding Food Poisoning (Foodborne Illness)

FoodPoisoning

We make a decision with everything we place into our mouths. We also exhibit a large amount of trust that the food we eat is safe. Most of the time that’s true, but unfortunately sometimes it’s not. Here are some questions and answers to understanding the scope of food poisoning.
How frequent is food poisoning?
According to 2011 data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year in the U.S. approximately 1 in 6 Americans (almost 50 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.

food poisoning

What causes food poisoning?
Over 250 different foodborne diseases have been described, most of which are infections. The most common foodborne illnesses are caused by norovirus and by the bacteria SalmonellaClostridium perfringens, and CampylobacterStaph Aureus (yes, that Staph) is another prominent but less common cause of food poisoning. Poisonous chemicals or other harmful substances can cause foodborne diseases if present in food.
What are the most common symptoms of food poisoning?
Even though there are many different foodborne diseases, they share a commonality of entering your system through your gastrointestinal tract. As a result, the first symptoms are caused and expressed from there and typically include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

foodpoisoning traceback_900px

Why do foodborne diseases seem to occur in outbreaks?
Actually, the overwhelming majority of cases of food poisoning don’t occur in outbreaks, but of course you wouldn’t know that because having diarrhea is not something people typically will tell you… When outbreaks occur, it’s because a group of people happened to eat the same contaminated item. This would explain how instances of groups of friends or strangers could have been involved. Contaminations that occur closest to the food supply’s distribution result in the widest outbreaks. Look at the above picture. If contaminated food from the producer makes it all the way through the distribution chain, individuals in multiple states could end up with the same infection.

   foodpoisoningfoodsimage

What foods are most associated with foodborne illness?

  • Foods that mingle the products of many individual animals: Raw milk, pooled raw eggs and ground beef have increased risk because contamination in any one of the multiple animals involved can contaminate the entire mixture.
  • Raw foods of animal origin: Foods such as meat, poultry, shellfish, eggs and unpasteurized milk are the most likely foods to be contaminated.
  • Raw fruits and vegetables: Washing reduces but doesn’t eliminate pre-existing contamination, such as that occurring from the fresh manure that fertilizes vegetables. Furthermore, water itself may be contaminated.
  • Shellfish: Because “filter-feeding” shellfish strain microorganisms from the sea over many months, they are particularly likely to be contaminated if there are any in the seawater.

An additional Straight, No Chaser will discuss treatment options. Refer to this post for preventative tips.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, AmazonBarnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2015 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Food Contamination and Protecting Yourself From Foodborne Illness

foodsafety

Those of you who are regular readers of Straight, No Chaser may have heard me say that everything you place in your mouth either harms or helps you. Your mouth is the direct point of entry to your body. You should be concerned about the substances you ingest. Today’s post begins a Straight, No Chaser series that will discuss food safety, food poisoning, prevention and treatment of foodborne illnesses. Today we start with food safety.
Allow me to suggest that bacteria are as much (if not more) of a part of this world as humans, and it is to be expected that they would be present in our food supply. Our issues are when does present become contaminated, and when does contaminated become illness? Understanding these issues makes it easier to take appropriate preventative and treatment measures when needed.

foodcontam

Here are some examples of how our food becomes contaminated.

  • Microorganisms (e.g. bacterial, viruses) exist in the intestines of healthy animals, even those raised for human consumption. Even a small amount of spillage of intestinal contents during slaughter can lead to contamination.
  • Fruits and vegetables can be contaminated when washed or irrigated with contaminated water (which sometimes contains animal manure or human sewage).
  • Salmonella can infect a hen’s ovary (remember the ovaries produce eggs) so that the contents of a normal-appearing egg can be contaminated even before the shell is formed.
  • Vibrio bacteria are normally present in seawater. Oysters and other shellfish can develop concentrations of Vibrio high enough to cause infections.
  • Microorganisms such as norovirus can concentrate in human sewage that is dumped into the sea. This contaminates the water supply.
  • Infected food handlers and food conditions pass microorganisms on to customers. Examples of this include Shigella bacteria, hepatitis A virus and norovirus. Knives, other utensils and table surfaces also are methods of transferring disease when unclean.
  • When certain foods are left out (i.e. not refrigerated), minimal contamination can become highly infectious in a matter of hours due to rapid growth of microorganisms. Conversely, in most instances refrigeration or freezing prevents virtually all bacteria from growing. Certain other foods (e.g. salted meats, jams, pickled vegetables) require high salt, sugar or acid levels to prevent bacterial growth.
  • When certain foods are adequately cooked (the ideal internal temperature is 160 degrees Fahrenheit), most microorganisms will be killed.

Food-Safety

Protecting yourself from foodborne illness
Professionals in public health, industry, governmental regulatory agencies, and academic research have roles to play in making the food supply less contaminated. So do you. I would like to advocate for one simple step for you to take as you shop for food that will promote food safety.

  • Buying pasteurized milk rather than raw unpasteurized milk prevents an enormous number of foodborne diseases every day and has done so for 100 years. Juice pasteurization has more recently proven to be important in preventing certain E. coli infections. Basically, you can lower your risk by purchasing pasteurized products.

Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, here are some additional simple precautions to reduce the risk of foodborne diseases:
COOK: Cook your meat, poultry and eggs thoroughly.

  • Using a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of meat is a good way to be sure that it is cooked sufficiently to kill bacteria. Remember, the internal temperature of meat should be above 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Eggs should be cooked until the yolk is firm.

SEPARATE: Don’t cross-contaminate one food with another.

  • Avoid cross-contaminating foods by washing hands, utensils and cutting boards after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry and before they touch another food.
  • Put cooked meat on a clean platter, rather back on one that held the pre-cooked, raw meat.

CHILLRefrigerate leftovers promptly.

  • Bacteria can grow quickly at room temperature, so refrigerate leftover foods if they are not going to be eaten within 4 hours.
  • Large volumes of food will cool more quickly if they are divided into several shallow containers for refrigeration.

CLEANWash produce.

  • Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables in running tap water to remove visible dirt and grime.
  • Remove and discard the outermost leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage.
  • Because bacteria can grow well on the cut surface of fruit or vegetable, be careful not to contaminate these foods while slicing them up on the cutting board, and avoid leaving cut produce at room temperature for many hours.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before preparing food and before touching others.
  • Avoid preparing food for others if you yourself have a diarrheal illness.
  • Changing a baby’s diaper while preparing food is a bad idea that can easily spread illness.

REPORT: Report suspected foodborne illnesses to your local health department.

  • Calls from concerned citizens are often how outbreaks are first detected. Play your part.
  • If a public health official contacts you to find out more about an illness you had, your cooperation is important. In public health investigations, it can be as important to talk to healthy people as to ill people.

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, AmazonBarnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2015 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

urinary_tractkids

Ladies, have you ever been told that you get “bladder infections” because you didn’t wipe front to back instead of back to front? Men, have you ever been told that this could be a sign that your prostate needs to be examined? This Straight, No Chaser answers simple questions on urinary tract infections (UTIs). With over 8 millions cases and 100,000 hospitalizations a year due to these, it’s information you should know.

 Urinary-tract-anatomy

What is a urinary tract infection (UTI)? Is it the same as a bladder infection?
What these questions really ask is “What is the urinary tract?” The body’s drainage system serves to remove excess fluid and bodily waste. It includes the following organs:

  • The kidneys serve to filter blood and produce approximately 1-2 quarts of urine per day as a result of this process.
  • The ureters are tubes extending from the kidneys to the bladder, carrying filtered urine within them.
  • The bladder is the pouch within which you store urine until you’re ready to release it.
  • The urethra is a tube at the bottom of the bladder through which urine gets expelled.

A UTI is an infection anywhere along this path. Infections at different parts of the urinary tract can display different symptoms and have different complications.
What causes a UTI?
Bacteria are the most common cause of UTIs, particularly those that live in the bowel (such as E. coli) and are within or in close proximity to the vagina. Under most circumstances the body is very effective at removing bacteria and other microorganisms from the urinary tract (urinating just washes them out!), but some of us are at increased risk due to diminished defenses or other circumstances in which these microorganisms can grow.

 utianatomy

Why do women get UTIs, and it seems like men don’t?
It is true that women get UTIs about four times more frequently than men, but anyone of any age or sex can be infected. Here are some reasons why.

  • Women have a shorter urethra, which makes it easier for bacteria to reach the bladder.
  • Also, the opening of a woman’s urethra is near the vagina and anus, where bacteria live.
  • Women who use a diaphragm are also more likely to get UTIs than women who use other forms of birth control.
  • The male prostate produces secretions that slow bacterial growth.

Are there other risk factors for UTIs? 
Yes. Others at higher risk for UTIs include the following.

  • those having diabetes or have lowered immune systems
  • those habitually needing a tube to drain their bladder
  • those with urinary tract abnormalities that block the flow of urine
  • those with spinal cord injuries or other nerve damage

Additionally, once a man has a UTI, it’s more likely he’ll have the problem again because the bacteria are extremely difficult to reach once they set up shop in the male prostate.
Are UTIs serious?
Unless you describe the annoying symptoms as serious, most UTIs are not serious. However, UTIs can lead to severe complications if left untreated, including the following:

  • Long lasting or recurrent kidney infections can cause permanent damage and scarring to the kidneys, which can create insufficient kidney function and produce high blood pressure and other problems.
  • Kidney infections can enter the blood stream and become life threatening.

 Urinary-Tract-Infection

What are the signs and symptoms of a UTI?
You should see your physician if you develop any of the following signs or symptoms:

  • A burning sensation with urination
  • Bloody, cloudy, dark or otherwise discolored urine
  • Fever or chills
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Frequent or urgent need to urinate, regardless of the amount actually expressed
  • Pain in your back or side below the ribs

How are UTIs diagnosed?
UTIs are diagnosed based both on symptoms and a lab test. Many of you have experienced your urine being sent to a lab from the emergency room or your doctor’s office. Based on a combination of symptoms, the presence of bacteria and white blood cells that have accumulated to fight the infection, the diagnosis will be made. If you have frequent infections, infections that don’t respond well to treatment, atypical presentations or are sick enough to be hospitalized, your urine may be cultured in an effort to grow the bacteria causing your symptoms. This allows more precise treatment regimens to be given. In other circumstances, tests may be done to check the normalcy of your urinary tract, including an ultrasound or CT scan. Further details on when and why this would be done is available on www.sterlingmedicaladvice.com.
An additional Straight, No Chaser will discuss prevention and treatment options for UTIs.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at www.jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, AmazonBarnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2015 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

urinary_tractkids

Ladies, have you ever been told that you get “bladder infections” because you didn’t wipe front to back instead of back to front? Men, have you ever been told that this could be a sign that your prostate needs to be examined? This Straight, No Chaser answers simple questions on urinary tract infections (UTIs). With over 8 millions cases and 100,000 hospitalizations a year due to these, it’s information you should know.

 Urinary-tract-anatomy

What is a urinary tract infection (UTI)? Is it the same as a bladder infection?
What these questions really ask is “What is the urinary tract?” The body’s drainage system serves to remove excess fluid and bodily waste. It includes the following organs:

  • The kidneys serve to filter blood and produce approximately 1-2 quarts of urine per day as a result of this process.
  • The ureters are tubes extending from the kidneys to the bladder, carrying filtered urine within them.
  • The bladder is the pouch within which you store urine until you’re ready to release it.
  • The urethra is a tube at the bottom of the bladder through which urine gets expelled.

A UTI is an infection anywhere along this path. Infections at different parts of the urinary tract can display different symptoms and have different complications.
What causes a UTI?
Bacteria are the most common cause of UTIs, particularly those that live in the bowel (such as E. coli) and are within or in close proximity to the vagina. Under most circumstances the body is very effective at removing bacteria and other microorganisms from the urinary tract (urinating just washes them out!), but some of us are at increased risk due to diminished defenses or other circumstances in which these microorganisms can grow.

 utianatomy

Why do women get UTIs, and it seems like men don’t?
It is true that women get UTIs about four times more frequently than men, but anyone of any age or sex can be infected. Here are some reasons why.

  • Women have a shorter urethra, which makes it easier for bacteria to reach the bladder.
  • Also, the opening of a woman’s urethra is near the vagina and anus, where bacteria live.
  • Women who use a diaphragm are also more likely to get UTIs than women who use other forms of birth control.
  • The male prostate produces secretions that slow bacterial growth.

Are there other risk factors for UTIs?
Yes. Others at higher risk for UTIs include the following.

  • those having diabetes or have lowered immune systems
  • those habitually needing a tube to drain their bladder
  • those with urinary tract abnormalities that block the flow of urine
  • those with spinal cord injuries or other nerve damage

Additionally, once a man has a UTI, it’s more likely he’ll have the problem again because the bacteria are extremely difficult to reach once they set up shop in the male prostate.
Are UTIs serious?
Unless you describe the annoying symptoms as serious, most UTIs are not serious. However, UTIs can lead to severe complications if left untreated, including the following:

  • Long lasting or recurrent kidney infections can cause permanent damage and scarring to the kidneys, which can create insufficient kidney function and produce high blood pressure and other problems.
  • Kidney infections can enter the blood stream and become life threatening.

 Urinary-Tract-Infection

What are the signs and symptoms of a UTI?
You should see your physician if you develop any of the following signs or symptoms:

  • A burning sensation with urination
  • Bloody, cloudy, dark or otherwise discolored urine
  • Fever or chills
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Frequent or urgent need to urinate, regardless of the amount actually expressed
  • Pain in your back or side below the ribs

How are UTIs diagnosed?
UTIs are diagnosed based both on symptoms and a lab test. Many of you have experienced your urine being sent to a lab from the emergency room or your doctor’s office. Based on a combination of symptoms, the presence of bacteria and white blood cells that have accumulated to fight the infection, the diagnosis will be made. If you have frequent infections, infections that don’t respond well to treatment, atypical presentations or are sick enough to be hospitalized, your urine may be cultured in an effort to grow the bacteria causing your symptoms. This allows more precise treatment regimens to be given. In other circumstances, tests may be done to check the normalcy of your urinary tract, including an ultrasound or CT scan. Further details on when and why this would be done is available on www.sterlingmedicaladvice.com.
An additional Straight, No Chaser will discuss prevention and treatment options for UTIs.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Understanding Food Poisoning (Foodborne Illness)

FoodPoisoning

We make a decision with everything we place into our mouths. We also exhibit a large amount of trust that the food we eat is safe. Most of the time that’s true, but unfortunately sometimes it’s not. Here are some questions and answers to understanding the scope of food poisoning.
How frequent is food poisoning?
According to 2011 data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year in the U.S. approximately 1 in 6 Americans (almost 50 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.

food poisoning

What causes food poisoning?
Over 250 different foodborne diseases have been described, most of which are infections. The most common foodborne illnesses are caused by norovirus and by the bacteria Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, and Campylobacter. Staph Aureus (yes, that Staph) is another prominent but less common cause of food poisoning. Poisonous chemicals or other harmful substances can cause foodborne diseases if present in food.
What are the most common symptoms of food poisoning?
Even though there are many different foodborne diseases, they share a commonality of entering your system through your gastrointestinal tract. As a result, the first symptoms are caused and expressed from there and typically include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

foodpoisoning traceback_900px

Why do foodborne diseases seem to occur in outbreaks?
Actually, the overwhelming majority of cases of food poisoning don’t occur in outbreaks, but of course you wouldn’t know that because having diarrhea is not something people typically will tell you… When outbreaks occur, it’s because a group of people happened to eat the same contaminated item. This would explain how instances of groups of friends or strangers could have been involved. Contaminations that occur closest to the food supply’s distribution result in the widest outbreaks. Look at the above picture. If contaminated food from the producer makes it all the way through the distribution chain, individuals in multiple states could end up with the same infection.

   foodpoisoningfoodsimage

What foods are most associated with foodborne illness?

  • Foods that mingle the products of many individual animals: Raw milk, pooled raw eggs and ground beef have increased risk because contamination in any one of the multiple animals involved can contaminate the entire mixture.
  • Raw foods of animal origin: Foods such as meat, poultry, shellfish, eggs and unpasteurized milk are the most likely foods to be contaminated.
  • Raw fruits and vegetables: Washing reduces but doesn’t eliminate pre-existing contamination, such as that occurring from the fresh manure that fertilizes vegetables. Furthermore, water itself may be contaminated.
  • Shellfish: Because “filter-feeding” shellfish strain microorganisms from the sea over many months, they are particularly likely to be contaminated if there are any in the seawater.

An additional Straight, No Chaser will discuss treatment options. Refer to this post for preventative tips.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Straight, No Chaser: Food Contamination and Protecting Yourself From Foodborne Illness

foodsafety

Those of you who are regular readers of Straight, No Chaser may have heard me say that everything you place in your mouth either harms or helps you. Your mouth is the direct point of entry to your body. You should be concerned about the substances you ingest. Today’s post begins a Straight, No Chaser series that will discuss food safety, food poisoning, prevention and treatment of foodborne illnesses. Today we start with food safety.
Allow me to suggest that bacteria are as much (if not more) of a part of this world as humans, and it is to be expected that they would be present in our food supply. Our issues are when does present become contaminated, and when does contaminated become illness? Understanding these issues makes it easier to take appropriate preventative and treatment measures when needed.

foodcontam

Here are some examples of how our food becomes contaminated.

  • Microorganisms (e.g. bacterial, viruses) exist in the intestines of healthy animals, even those raised for human consumption. Even a small amount of spillage of intestinal contents during slaughter can lead to contamination.
  • Fruits and vegetables can be contaminated when washed or irrigated with contaminated water (which sometimes contains animal manure or human sewage).
  • Salmonella can infect a hen’s ovary (remember the ovaries produce eggs) so that the contents of a normal-appearing egg can be contaminated even before the shell is formed.
  • Vibrio bacteria are normally present in seawater. Oysters and other shellfish can develop concentrations of Vibrio high enough to cause infections.
  • Microorganisms such as norovirus can concentrate in human sewage that is dumped into the sea. This contaminates the water supply.
  • Infected food handlers and food conditions pass microorganisms on to customers. Examples of this include Shigella bacteria, hepatitis A virus and norovirus. Knives, other utensils and table surfaces also are methods of transferring disease when unclean.
  • When certain foods are left out (i.e. not refrigerated), minimal contamination can become highly infectious in a matter of hours due to rapid growth of microorganisms. Conversely, in most instances refrigeration or freezing prevents virtually all bacteria from growing. Certain other foods (e.g. salted meats, jams, pickled vegetables) require high salt, sugar or acid levels to prevent bacterial growth.
  • When certain foods are adequately cooked (the ideal internal temperature is 160 degrees Fahrenheit), most microorganisms will be killed.

Food-Safety

Protecting yourself from foodborne illness
Professionals in public health, industry, governmental regulatory agencies, and academic research have roles to play in making the food supply less contaminated. So do you. I would like to advocate for one simple step for you to take as you shop for food that will promote food safety.

  • Buying pasteurized milk rather than raw unpasteurized milk prevents an enormous number of foodborne diseases every day and has done so for 100 years. Juice pasteurization has more recently proven to be important in preventing certain E. coli infections. Basically, you can lower your risk by purchasing pasteurized products.

Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, here are some additional simple precautions to reduce the risk of foodborne diseases:
COOK: Cook your meat, poultry and eggs thoroughly.

  • Using a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of meat is a good way to be sure that it is cooked sufficiently to kill bacteria. Remember, the internal temperature of meat should be above 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Eggs should be cooked until the yolk is firm.

SEPARATE: Don’t cross-contaminate one food with another.

  • Avoid cross-contaminating foods by washing hands, utensils and cutting boards after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry and before they touch another food.
  • Put cooked meat on a clean platter, rather back on one that held the pre-cooked, raw meat.

CHILL: Refrigerate leftovers promptly.

  • Bacteria can grow quickly at room temperature, so refrigerate leftover foods if they are not going to be eaten within 4 hours.
  • Large volumes of food will cool more quickly if they are divided into several shallow containers for refrigeration.

CLEAN: Wash produce.

  • Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables in running tap water to remove visible dirt and grime.
  • Remove and discard the outermost leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage.
  • Because bacteria can grow well on the cut surface of fruit or vegetable, be careful not to contaminate these foods while slicing them up on the cutting board, and avoid leaving cut produce at room temperature for many hours.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before preparing food and before touching others.
  • Avoid preparing food for others if you yourself have a diarrheal illness.
  • Changing a baby’s diaper while preparing food is a bad idea that can easily spread illness.

REPORT: Report suspected foodborne illnesses to your local health department.

  • Calls from concerned citizens are often how outbreaks are first detected. Play your part.
  • If a public health official contacts you to find out more about an illness you had, your cooperation is important. In public health investigations, it can be as important to talk to healthy people as to ill people.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Straight, No Chaser: Sealed with a (Wrong Type of) Kiss – Zoonotic Diseases

zoonosisdoglick

It’s interesting how we take animals for granted. Many of us touch and handle them, play with them. Some people keep their pets in their faces, allowing them to kiss and lick them. Do you ever think about where they’ve been and whether they are ill and contagious? Would you be surprised if I told you that approximately 60% of the bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms that cause human disease originates from animals?

 zoonosis

That’s right. There are many diseases that animals have that can be transmitted to humans. These groups of diseases are called zoonoses. It’s at least worth giving it some thought; many of these diseases don’t even require direct contact with the affected animal. Even more concerning is the fact that about 75% of newly emergent infectious diseases affecting humans are of animal origin.
We spend a lot of time in places where infected animals and insects may exist. Besides exposures in relatively exotic areas such as farms, woods, nature parks and petting zoos, simpler environments such as pet stores, fairs, schools and childcare facilities may also prove to be risky.

 zoonosisdeer

Many different types of animals pose these risks, including rodents, amphibians, live poultry, reptiles, insects and an assortment of domestic and wild animals. Here are a few examples (but not an exhaustive list) of how disease may spread that have been particularly common in the news of late.

  • Many animals carry rabies, including bats, raccoons, foxes, skunks, wolves, coyotes, cattle, monkeys, mongooses and dogs.
  • Reptiles such as turtles, iguanas and snakes can transmit Salmonella, a prominent cause of food poisoning.
  • Handling your cat’s kitty litter (or otherwise handling stool) can transmit toxoplasmosis, an infection that can be deadly to those with weakened immune systems or to unborn children.
  • West Nile has been in the news every year this millennium, causing over 1.5 million infections in humans since 1999.
  • Deer and deer mice carry ticks that can lead to Lyme disease, a bacterial infection involving a rash, fever, chills, body aches and possible arthritis, neurological and cardiac disorders.
  • Other common infections caused by these exposures include anthrax, dengue, Ebola hemorrhagic fever, E. coli infection, malaria, Plague and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

If you’re a good pet owner (and otherwise healthy), you shouldn’t have to worry about this much. Simple steps such as keeping your pets’ shots up to date, keeping their play areas clean, avoiding direct contact with wildlife and maintaining basic hygiene measures such as hand washing after contact sufficiently lowers your risk. Here are a few additional tips:

  • Keep tabs on your kids to ensure they wash their hands properly and avoid thumb-sucking, eating and pacifier use after animal contact and before cleaning up.
  • Use insect repellents that contain 20% or more DEET on the exposed skin and be generous with it when in risky areas.
  • Use products that contain repellents (such as permethrin) on your clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents.
  • Look for and remove ticks from your and your children’s bodies.
  • Limit mosquito breeding grounds around your home by getting rid of items that hold still water.

Feel free to ask any questions you may have on this topic.

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