Summer break is here and children are out of school and headed to camps or trips with their families. If one of your plans is to head to a petting zoo or anywhere around farm or wild animals, take note of the nasty and sometimes serious illnesses you or your children can catch if you're not careful.
Epidemiology is the science which studies the modes of transmission of pathogenic agents, the causes of diseases, their impact on health, as well as the economical and the sociological consequences of outbreaks in populations.
In the large scheme of things having a global impact, it is believed that life on our planet is ruled by the interactions of the bacteria that drive nutrient and energy flow and the viruses that infect them. While these are the really big players we never really give them a thought even though their processes, the delicate dance of life and death have been going on for perhaps a billion years. Instead we are all focused on something coming out of West Africa we never even heard of until a few years ago. And that is just the problem; neither the disease nor our disease-fighting repertoire has the experience at this rather ugly tango in which we find ourselves involved. Ebola generally kills its human hosts too quickly to be a well-adjusted obligate parasite and we thought it could be relied upon to burn itself out. The later of which does not qualify for a disease control plan.
Did you know that your desk is more contaminated than the average toilet seat? In fact, office toilet seats have about 49 germs per square inch compared to desktops at 21,000. But how can that be when desktops get cleaned frequently?
“JOHNNY” yells his mother “How many times do I have to tell you to cover your mouth when you cough!” “Sorry mom!” Johnny yells back….
Growing up, my mom was a nurse. My brother and I just thought her reflexive “Cover your mouth”, “Wash your hands” was the nagging rite of passage nurse-moms have over their kids. We rarely responded with a “Yes, mom!” The usual response from us would be rolling of the eyes, shrugging of the shoulders and yelling “Whatever!” As an adult, a mom and in a career related to infection prevention and control, I realize my mom’s often repeated phrases to cover our mouths and wash our hands were in fact sound guidance not just to teach us good manners, but to help prevent the transmission of disease.