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Modern Prevention Tips on Infectious Disease Pt2

Infectious Disease Prevention Pt2

 

In part one of this series on Infectious Diseases it was explained what infectious diseases were…in this article, the basics of prevention will be discussed.

 

Basic Hygiene and safe food handling procedures will prevent or stop most if not all of these viruses, bacteria, parasites and protozoa. We are fortunate to currently live in a time when sanitation and personal hygiene are easy and affordable for many people. More will be discussed at a later time on hygiene and sanitation in undesirable or ‘unmodern’ situations and suggestions will be given on the how to part ‘just in case’.

Hygiene
Hygiene is the science that deals with the promotion and preservation of health by reducing harmful levels of germs through cleanliness and sterilization. The two most common hygienic practices are: 1) washing hands and food preparation areas with soap, and 2) cooking food and boiling drinking water. Washing with soap removes oils and breaks up dirt particles so they may be washed away, whereas cooking and boiling kill harmful organisms that cannot be removed by washing. You can prevent diseases caused by viruses, bacteria, and parasites by keeping a clean environment and by handling food in a sanitary manner. Most intestinal parasites are transmitted by contact with feces from an infected person or pet. These are some of the most important sanitation practices to help you maintain your health:

  • Wash your hands before cooking or eating.
  • Wash your hands after using the bathroom, changing a child’s diapers, shaking hands, handling money, touching door handles, elevator buttons, light switches, handrails in public places, and handling pets.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, mouth, or any food after touching any contaminated surfaces until after you have washed your  hands. Wear gloves to prevent contamination. On average, according to the CDC, human beings will touch their eyes, mouth, face, nose or ears at LEAST 3,000 times a day.
  • Do not share personal items such as a tooth brush, hair brush/comb, toe nail clippers or even towels.
  • Keep cutting boards and food preparation areas clean  by washing them with soap and water and allowing them to dry thoroughly.
  • Cook meats and seafood. Cooking to a temperature of  180°F (82°C) will kill disease-causing organisms. Use a meat thermometer when cooking roasts or whole turkeys to be sure food is cooked to a safe temperature.
  • Keep raw food away from cooked food. Avoid cross-contamination by using separate plates for the cooked and the raw      food.
  • Drink purified water and use purified water for washing hands and cleaning food preparation areas. Water can be purified by boiling for a few minutes or by chemical treatments such as chlorination.
  • Keep food refrigerated to delay spoilage. Low temperatures slow down reproduction of bacteria.
  • Don’t let cooked food sit at room temperature too long. Food should be promptly packed in shallow containers so it can chill quickly, and put in the refrigerator. Keeping food refrigerated at or below 4°C/40°F slows down bacterial growth.
  • Vegetables that are eaten raw, such as carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, etc., should be washed thoroughly. The vinegar in some salad dressings will also kill many types of bacteria.
  • Wash fruits that are cut, such as melons, to avoid  transferring any dirt or contamination from the outside of the fruit to  the inside during cutting.
  • Do not eat spoiled food, or any food that has an unpleasant smell or taste. You cannot always see, smell or taste harmful organisms. When in doubt, throw out old food rather than risk getting sick.
  • Breathe clean air. Avoid smoky, dusty, musty environments, or confined places where people are coughing or sneezing.  Wearing a surgical face mask can reduce the chances of contracting or spreading diseases caused by infectious organisms carried in the droplets  from coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid insect bites by using window screens, mosquito netting, insect repellents, and by being indoors between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. Many viral, bacterial, and protozoan diseases are transmitted by insect bites from mosquitoes, flies, fleas, and ticks. Diseases transmitted by mosquitoes include Dengue Fever, Malaria, Rift Valley Fever, Yellow Fever, and various types of viral encephalitis such as West Nile virus. Keep your yard clean and devoid of places (or at least make it hard for them to breed in your yard) where they can breed…it goes without saying, empty that pot that is holding water and keep the grass cut short.
  • Avoid walking barefoot on soil or swimming in water contaminated by feces. Hookworm and schistosomiasis infections start when the larvae penetrate the skin. It is possible to get parasites from cats and dogs. Test your pets for parasites regularly and dispose of their feces in a sanitary manner.
  • To prevent wart infections and athlete’s foot, avoid walking barefoot in public areas such as showers or communal changing rooms. Avoid sharing shoes and socks.
  • Brush and floss your teeth every day before going to bed to prevent gum diseases and dental decay.
  • Many diseases are transferred by close contact with an infected individual. Be very selective in your intimate personal relationships, and avoid touching any sores, feces, or body fluids from a sick person. If you must come in contact with someone who maybe sick, wear gloves or wash your hands and wear a face mask if you have to.
  • Keep the kitchen and bathroom areas clean at all times.
  • If you are having symptoms such as a cough, runny nose, tearing eyes, diarrhea, vomiting or are running a temperature…STAY  HOME and avoid as much contact with others as possible to prevent spreading a possible infectious disease…this goes for keeping children home as well unless you know for sure its ‘just allergies’.
  • Stay away from those displaying symptoms if at all possible.
  • Maintain a healthy immune system by eating a proper diet, exercising and low stress levels.
  • Take all prescriptions as prescribed, from heart medication, to antibiotics. A body that is well regulated tends to be able to fight infection better than one that is not.
  • Stay out of the doctors office unless absolutely necessary…doctors can’t help you with a cold and they can’t help with an inner ear infection, only time can. Unless you are experiencing symptoms beyond your control with an OTC, homeopathy or herbs, stay out of the doctors office…many people go in for ‘routine’ yet unnecessary reasons and bring something else home with them…and if you do have to go…insist the doctor and nurses wash their hands when they come in and don’t hesitate to ask about their ‘cleanliness policies’.
  • Reduce situations in which you may come into contact with large numbers of people when there is a high chance of the flu, a      warning has been put out about a possible infectious threat or be sure to take measures to keep yourself safe.
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July 27, 2012 Posted by | Guidelines, Infectious Disease | Leave a comment

Infectious Disease…What is It? Pt.1

What are Infectious Diseases?

In a grid up situation or in otherwords when life is ‘normal’ many of take for granted modern sanitation and personal hygeine which is the best way to prevent infectious diseases. But even now, right in our own ‘normal’ world we see outbreaks of infectious disease due to improper handling of food, unsanitary conditions (and this will get worse as the economy deterriorates and more and more people are unable to afford food let alone wash hands and not have close contact with others) and lack of personal hygeine. So while the below information may seem to be a no brainer right now, I feel it is worth going over the basics before going into ‘alternatives’ to modern prevention techniques.

Below is taken directly from http://www.scientificpsychic.com/health/hygiene.html

Diseases can be classified as genetic, metabolic, or infectious. Genetic diseases are caused by genetic defects inherited from the parents. Sickle cell anemia and cystic fibrosis are two examples of genetic diseases. Metabolic diseases are those that may develop from the failure of normal bodily functions, but may also be inherited. Diabetes mellitus, for example, is a metabolic disease characterized by high blood sugar level resulting from insufficient insulin secretion by the pancreas. Obesity is a major contributing factor to adult-onset diabetes. Infectious diseases or communicable diseases are caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites that use our body as a host for reproduction. Tuberculosis, malaria, and AIDS are responsible for approximately half of all deaths caused by infectious diseases worldwide.

  • Viruses are      pieces of nucleic acid (DNA or RNA)      wrapped in a thin coat of protein that replicate only within the cells of      living hosts.
  • Bacteria are      one-cell microorganisms with a simple cellular organization whose nucleus      lacks a membrane.
  • Parasites may be      protozoa, yeasts, or multicellular organisms such as fungi or worms that      live in or on a host to obtain nourishment without providing any benefit      to the host.

Viruses
Viruses penetrate the cell walls of body tissues bringing a payload of DNA or RNA that starts replicating the virus inside the infected cells. When the cell dies, multiple copies of the virus are released and continue to infect other cells. The human body sometimes is able to build antibodies that prevent the replication of the virus to stop the infection. Vaccines consist of weakened viruses that stimulate the body’s defenses to fight infection by the natural viruses. Here is a list of diseases caused by viruses:

  • Common Cold is caused by a rhinovirus
  • Influenza (Flu) –
  • Dengue fever is transmitted by bites from mosquitoes      mainly in Southeast Asia and South America
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is caused      by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). It is transmitted by sexual      contact with an infected person or by sharing needles or syringes for drug      injection.
  • Hepatitis (inflammation of the liver, jaundice)
  • Herpes (cold sores, and genital herpes)
  • Rabies (transmitted by bites from infected bats,      raccoons, dogs)
  • Pertusis (whooping cough) causes fever and severe      coughing, transmitted through droplets.
  • Polio (may cause paralysis)
  • Smallpox
  • Mumps
  • Yellow Fever is a viral hemorrhagic fever      transmitted by infected mosquitoes.
  • Measles or rubella
  • Warts caused by a virus may be treated at home with      solutions and patches containing salicylic acid over several weeks, or in      the doctor’s office by freezing.

Bacteria
Bacteria are one-celled organisms that do not have membranes binding their nuclear material (prokaryotes). This feature distinguishes them from protozoa which have a more complex cellular structure and a distinct nucleus (eukaryotes). Not all bacteria cause diseases. Bacteria are present in some fermented foods. Yogurt, for example, has Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus bacteria. The human mouth and intestines harbor over 400 different types of bacteria that produce some vitamins and ferment fiber to produce short-chain fatty acids. Bacteria that cause diseases are called “pathogenic” bacteria.Antibiotics, like penicillin, are substances that are toxic to the bacteria, but relatively harmless to people. They have been very useful in combating disease, but their increased use has produced antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Bacteria are classified by their shape and the color that they take when stained. A bacillus is elongated like a sausage, a coccus is round, and a spirochete is helical (spiral) in shape. Hans Christian Gram (1853-1938) developed a staining technique that colors some bacteria deep blue (Gram positive), whereas others take on a red color (Gram negative). Here is a list of common bacteria and some of their attributes:

  • Staphylococcus – normally found on the skin, but can      cause boils and pimples.
    Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is responsible      for many
    serious infections that are sometimes fatal.
  • Escherichia coli – normal inhabitant of the colon,      hence called “coliform” bacteria
    E. coli O157:H7 is a virulent strain that produces toxins that
    can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, and even kidney failure.
  • Chlamydia – a sexually transmitted disease (STD)      caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis.
    Over one million cases of chlamydia were reported in the United States      in 2006.
  • Salmonella – frequent cause of food poisoning
  • Vibrio cholerae – causes cholera, an infection of      the small intestine characterized by watery diarrhea
  • Treponema pallidum – a spiral-shaped (spirochete)      bacteria that causes syphilis
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae – a Gram-negative coccus that      causes gonorrhea, one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases
  • Borrelia – a spirochete transmitted by ticks that      causes Lyme disease (borreliosis).
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis – the cause of      tuberculosis
  • Yersinia pestis – causes bubonic plague, transferred      by flea bites
  • Bacillus anthracis – the organism that causes      anthrax, characterized by black lesions.
  • Rickettsia – a motile, Gram-negative bacterium that      replicates only within the cytoplasm of cells and causes diseases such as      typhus, rickettsialpox, and Rocky       Mountain spotted      fever. It is transmitted by the bites of insects such as ticks, fleas, and      lice.

Parasites
Parasites may be protozoa, fungi, or multi-cellular organisms. Many parasites have complex life cycles that insure their proliferation and survival.

Protozoa
As mentioned above, protozoa have a more complex organization than bacteria. Some protozoa form cysts that protect them from harsh conditions and enable them to live outside of a host for a long time. Some diseases caused by protozoans are:

  • Malaria (transmitted by mosquitos) is most prevalent      in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Leishmaniasis (transmitted by sandflies which are      about one-third the size of mosquitoes)
  • African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness      transmitted by the tsetse fly)
  • Amoebic dysentery – infection of the intestine      caused by an ameba (Entamoeba histolytica), which causes severe      diarrhea.
  • Coccidiosis – intestinal infection that causes      bloody diarrhea.
  • Cryptosporidiosis – parasitic disease of the      intestine caused by Cryptosporidium.
  • Giardial enteritis – an infection of the small      intestine caused by Giardia lamblia.
  • Toxoplasmosis – a systemic parasitic infection      transmitted by eating undercooked meat or contamination by cat feces.

Fungi
Fungi include one-celled yeasts slightly bigger than bacteria, and multi-celled mushrooms and molds. Fungi do not have chlorophyll to make their own food, so they get their nutrition as parasites or by breaking down remains of dead plants or animals. Some fungi are poisonous (e.g., Amanita mushrooms), but some have beneficial uses. For example,Penicillium notatum produces the antibiotic penicillin and Saccharomyces cerevisiaeis the yeast used to make bread rise and to brew beer. Fungal diseases are called mycoses and include:

  • Aspergillosis – infection of sinuses and lungs
  • Blastomycosis – skin and pulmonary infections
  • Candidiasis – cutaneous and vaginal infections. Candida      albicans is the most common cause of vaginal yeast infections.
  • Coccidioidomycosis – may cause cough, chest pain,      shortness of breath
  • Cryptococcosis – may be transmitted in pigeon      droppings

Multicellular parasites
Multicellular parasites include various kinds of worms and fungi that cause diseases such as:

  • Ascariasis (roundworms)
  • Hookworm
  • Lymphatic filariasis or elephantiasis (transmitted      by mosquitos)
  • Pinworm
  • Schistosomiasis (liver or blood flukes)
  • Tapeworm
  • Trichinosis – a disease caused by consumption of      poorly cooked meat that contains cysts of Trichinella spiralis.
  • Tinea corporis, tinea pedis (ringworm, athlete’s      foot)

Intestinal parasites are commonly transmitted by eating food contaminated with feces or by eating raw or undercooked meat and seafood. In many parts of the world, manure or feces are used for fertilizing crops, and this is how vegetables and drinking water can become contaminated with the eggs or larvae of parasitic organisms. It is estimated that the human pinworm affects approximately 50% of the children in the United States. Pinworms lay their eggs around the anus and cause itching. The natural instinct to scratch, in combination with habits like thumb sucking and poor hand-washing, spreads the parasites. Tapeworms and roundworms can infect the body when their eggs or larvae are swallowed by eating raw or undercooked meats (pork) or seafood (ceviche, salmon roe, sashimi, sushi, cold-smoked fish). Protozoan parasites are frequently present in raw oysters.

Hookworms (Necator and Ancylostoma) are generally contracted by walking barefoot on soil contaminated by feces from infected animals or persons, or by swimming or wading in contaminated water. Hookworm larvae are capable of penetrating the skin in a few seconds. Once inside the body, they migrate to the lungs via the capillaries, and then cross into the air sacs of the lungs. They are eventually coughed up and swallowed. In the intestines, they feed on blood and reproduce. The females lay eggs that are passed in the feces to repeat the cycle.

Fungi and molds cause a variety of skin diseases such as athlete’s foot, jock itch, and ringworm, but they can also cause pulmonary and internal infections such as aspergillosis, and candidiasis (yeast infection). The dermatophyte Trichophyton rubrum is a fungus that frequently causes chronic infections of the skin and nails. Tinea capitis is a fungal infection of the scalp that causes severe itching, dandruff, and bald patches.Tinea corporis, commonly known as ringworm, is an infection of the skin found on the body, such as the trunk and limbs. Tinea pedis is a superficial fungal infection affecting the feet, often called athlete’s foot. This type of fungal infection typically is found in the skin between the toes, and is characterized by itching, blisters, cracking, and scaling.Tinea cruris, also known as jock itch, is a fungal infection of the skin of the groin area. Fungal infections are aggravated by sweating, restrictive garments, not washing and drying the body carefully on a daily basis, and by not changing into clean clothing frequently enough.

Ringworm and other fungus skin infections can be treated with a variety of non-prescription antifungal ointments, powders, or sprays containing tolnaftate, clotrimazole, undecylenic acid, terbinafine hydrochloride, salicylic acid, etc. White vinegar (5% acetic acid) is a common home remedy for fungal skin infections such as ringworm and athlete’s foot; it is applied with a cotton ball in the morning and in the evening, but it produces a burning sensation on broken skin. To prevent re-infection, the fungi that cause skin infections should be eliminated from environmental surfaces like bathtubs and toilet seats by washing the surfaces with diluted household chlorine bleach, which is a solution containing typically 5.25% sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl). Fungi on towels, sheets, socks, underwear, and other clothing can also be killed by adding bleach during the wash cycle, although this may fade some fabrics. In the case of athlete’s foot, shoes should also be treated with antifungal foot powder. For tinea capitis infections, pillows, pillow cases, combs, hats, and hair brushes must be disinfected. Chlorine bleach should not be used on the skin because it is extremely caustic and will cause chemical burns. Wear rubber gloves when handling bleach.

Basic Hygiene and safe food handling procedures will prevent or stop most if not all of these viruses, bacteria, parasites and protozoa. We are fortunate to currently live in a time when sanitation and personal hygiene are easy and affordable for many people. More will be discussed at a later time on hygiene and sanitation in undesirable or ‘unmodern’ situations.

Part 2 will discuss the typical ways to prevent or combat infectious diseases in the modern world.

July 27, 2012 Posted by | Guidelines, Infectious Disease | , , , | 1 Comment