Germs – They’re a Pain!

27 12 2012

Do you disinfect your countertops and sinks just before you start baking or cooking?

It sounds logical, but I don’t do it. I clear the debris and swipe at the crumbs before hauling out the pans, flour, sugar, and other yummo ingredients.

I know that at any given moment, my kitchen countertops are not free of germs. (Well, I do use something to kill the little microbes, but only once a day—usually just before bed.)

So, here’s where I’m going with this—my oldest daughter and I were in the germy kitchen last weekend, preparing dinner. She washed the veggies, and then set them on the counter. The germy counter.

I told her to put the clean stuff on a plate, not directly on the counter, because it hadn’t been disinfected. She rolled her eyes (did I mention she knows everything because she’s 17?) and told me I think way too much about germs.

She’s probably right, although I didn’t tell her that.

But, to play devil’s advocate, let’s take a moment and review a typical Saturday.

We go to the grocery store and Costco, touching cart handles and checkout stations and bins, just like the thousands of shoppers before us.

We return to the car, unload boxes and bags into the back end, and get into the front seat.

After I’ve opened the driver’s side door and touched the steering wheel and the gearshift, I put my hands all over the outside and inside of my purse, trying to unearth the hand sanitizer. I squirt on more than I need and rub briskly until dry, after which I promptly put my clean hands onto the germy steering wheel and gearshift.

Did you know that once the sanitizer is dry, it won’t kill any new germs that make it to your hands?

We drive home, grab the boxes and bags, carry them into the house and put them on the floor, chairs, and countertops in the kitchen. If we only have a few boxes or bags, we just use the countertops.

Hey, it’s easier!

The girls put away the groceries while I do the debris-clearing and crumb-swiping. Then, out come the pans and flour and what-have-you that we’ll be using for that day’s baking or cooking.

You see my problem. In fact, after explaining our routine, I’m just now seeing how lazy I’ve been about a clean cooking environment. My excuse is, I know how germy the countertops are and I never put any food on them.

My daughter is right in that I do think too much about germs, but I’m right in that there are some basics we should observe to reduce the risk of infections, which I swear I’ll start observing as of this minute.

Never put purses, briefcases, grocery bags or boxes, or anything that’s been sitting around a germy environment, on the kitchen countertops. Whatever germs the boxes etc. have on their bottoms will transfer to the counter.

Take two minutes to disinfect the cooking and prep areas.

Wash hands with soap and water, and realize that the germs you have on your hands when you turn on the water will stay on the faucet for a certain amount of time, unless you then disinfect the faucet. (It’s never-ending, really, isn’t it?!)

Well, I’m sure you know there are heaps of rules for safe handling of food. But that’s about all my stomach can take. Please share your keep-it-clean cooking ideas in the comments!

By Trish Parnell





Reporters – Follow The Science (Please!)

12 12 2012

Immunizations are a perpetually hot topic. We’ve been getting questions from reporters for over a decade about the need for vaccines, the efficacy of vaccines, and invariably the safety of vaccines.

Reporters have been doing stories on vaccines for a lot longer than a decade, but I remember 1999 as the year that things kicked off on the national scene. The television program ‘20/20′ ran shows featuring parents who claimed that various vaccines caused SIDS, multiple sclerosis, autism, and a variety of other illnesses in themselves or their children.

All these years later, when study after study after hundreds of studies have proven the safety of vaccines, many reporters still insist on representing the “other” side of the story when the subject is vaccine safety.

When I get a call from a reporter asking to speak to a parent whose child has been affected by a vaccine-preventable disease, I ask if they are also speaking to parents who believe their child has been adversely affected by a vaccine.

The answer is always yes.

The reporter will say that he or she just wants to present a balanced story.

After all of these years, and after all of these studies, I can’t help but wonder what their definition of balanced may be.

When I read a story about the importance of wearing a helmet when riding a bicycle or a motorcycle, there is often included in the story an anecdote about someone not wearing a helmet while riding who was consequently harmed by the lack of said helmet.

Never, in the same story, do I read about riders who were saved from harm by not wearing helmets, although I’m sure there are people in this world who believe it is safer to ride without helmets. For some reason, reporters don’t feel the need to present the anti-helmet point of view in order to have a balanced story.

The use of seat belts in cars has been mandatory in all states since the 1980s. When writing about car accidents, reporters frequently include stories about the injuries sustained when so-and-so was not wearing a seat belt.

I don’t believe I’ve ever read such a story where the reporter also highlighted incidents of those saved from harm by not wearing seat belts. I know of at least one person who firmly believes that not wearing a seat belt is safer than wearing one, but I have not yet seen her anti-seat belt view used to provide balance in a car accident story.

Reporters who include opinions from parents who believe their children were adversely affected by vaccines, and who include junk science from those pretending to be scientists, all in the name of having a “balanced” piece on vaccines, simply haven’t done their homework.

They are behind on the science, and the stories they write end up creating fear and confusion on the part of parents.

If a reporter feels that it is important to present views not substantiated by science, they should do an opinion piece rather than a news story.

At PKIDs, we sincerely appreciate those writers who look for and use the facts. As parents of children affected by disease, it’s easy for us to have lab work done and determine by the results that our child is infected with a particular disease.

If there is a vaccine to prevent that particular disease, we can say that it’s probable that, had our child been vaccinated, he or she would not have become infected. But, since not all vaccines work for everyone, we cannot say for certain. We can only talk about what vaccine-preventable diseases have done to our families.

We’re not painting all reporters with the same brush. Many reporters follow the science and come back with a fact-based story.

For those who do not, we ask that you make clear in your next story which parts are unsubstantiated, and which are based on fact.

Let’s stop the unnecessary scaremongering of the public.

 
By Trish Parnell





Whooping Cough – How Quickly it Spreads

10 12 2012

This Seattle mom shares the story of her infection, and consequently, that of her newborn son.





Healthcare Professionals: Thanks for Vaccinating Yourselves!

3 12 2012

nurseI like nurses and doctors and technicians and assistants and all the folks who, one way or another, try to keep me healthy.

That needed to be said because, in a second, it’s going to seem like I don’t much care for them.

Every year, a few healthcare professionals complain when the order comes down to get a flu shot or wear a mask when seeing patients.

They don’t wanna. Not only don’t they wanna, but their excuses sound, well, uninformed is the most polite way I can think of to say it.

The vaccine isn’t necessary.
The masks scare people.
Nobody can tell them what to do.
The vaccine doesn’t prevent flu.
The vaccine is more dangerous than the flu.
The masks are stuffy.
They don’t wanna.

Kids are required to get certain vaccines to attend public school, and if they don’t, they can’t attend.

The CDC recommends everyone over the age of six months get an annual flu shot.

You can’t get influenza from the flu shot.

It’s puzzling to know what to say to people who are supposed to be more educated than you are about disease prevention.

Granted, there are people at work or shopping in the grocery store who didn’t get the flu shot. They are therefore at risk of getting influenza and passing it on to those who couldn’t get the shot. But, the risk we have to take out here in the big old world isn’t the same as the risk we should be expected to encounter in a healthcare setting.

I say yahoo for the hospitals and clinics holding firm on this issue. To the few in healthcare who skipped the classes on disease prevention: follow the science and provide the minimum standard of care by getting vaccinated or wearing a mask around patients.

Please.

By Trish Parnell

Image courtesy of Lower Columbia College (whose students and staff are all vaccinated, as far as I know)