Throw out all your romaine lettuce. Those people who hate salads have been on to something. To be safe, you should probably just throw out all your lettuce if you don’t know what kind it is, according to the CDC. To date there have been 53 cases of E. coli infections across 16 states linked to romaine lettuce. Thirty one people have been hospitalized “including five people who have developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.” The CDC has narrowed the location of the bad lettuce but warns that “unless you can confirm it is not from the Yuma, Arizona, growing region,” it’s not safe to eat.
Symptoms of E. coli may include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting and usually appear 1-10 days after exposure. People with weakened immune symptoms, young children, older adults, and pregnant women are most at risk for serious complications.
In a report that shocks only scientists, (we all knew these things were probably spraying fecal matter everywhere, right?) a study published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology found that hot hair hand dryers actively spread bacteria all over your hands. The study also showed that “spores could be dispersed throughout buildings.”
The Washington Post notes that the authors of the study, “who found that the nozzle of the dryers had minimal bacterial levels, said that more evidence was needed to determine if the dryers were bacteria harbors themselves or just blew large amounts of contaminated air.”
The study recommends using HEPA filter dryers instead, which can reduce bacteria exposure by four times, which I guess is better than nothing. It’s worth noting that many people don’t properly wash their hands, and some people even seem to think rinsing them with water does something besides get them wet. Imagine all that leftover bacteria blowing in the hot wind of the hair dryer. Cool, right?
Antibiotic resistant bacteria is on the rise across the United States. According to the CDC, “more than 23,000 Americans die each year from infections caused by germs resistant to antibiotics.” They recently released a report with even more startling news. In 2017 there were over 200 cases of “nightmare” bacteria found in 27 states. According to LiveScience:
One particularly concerning type of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is called carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, which has been dubbed “nightmare” bacteria. These bacteria are not only resistant to many antibiotics but are also highly lethal, killing up to 50 percent of infected patients, according to the CDC.
Doctors liken the spread of CRE and other antibiotic-resistant germs to a wildfire, which is difficult to contain once it spreads widely.
Even more concerning is that 1 in 10 people show no symptoms at all. And while the “nightmare bacteria” known as CRE has not been found in all states (yet), general antibiotic resistance is just about everywhere.
The CDC suggests an aggressive approach. No, they don’t want you to go out and buy containment suits and build a bunker, though that is my suggestion. They emphasize that “early and aggressive action—when even a single case is found—can keep germs with unusual resistance from spreading in health care facilities and causing hard-to-treat or even untreatable infections.” This includes health care providers identifying resistant germs rapidly and “using infection control measures such as hospital gloves, gowns and more stringent cleaning in the rooms of infected patients. They also recommend testing patients without symptoms who may carry and spread the germs.”
Synthetic marijuana, also known as Spice, K2, or more generally a very bad idea, has been tied to two deaths and 56 cases of severe bleeding across Chicago and greater Illinois. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH):
All cases have required hospitalization for symptoms such as coughing up blood, blood in the urine, severe bloody nose, and/or bleeding gums. Nine of these cases have tested positive for brodifacoum, a lethal anticoagulant often used as a rodenticide, or rat poison.
Officials warn it’s likely there will be more cases, and potentially more deaths. Synthetic cannabinoids, the “fake weed” product, are made from “mind-altering chemicals that are sprayed on to dried plant material.” They are commonly sold as liquids to be used in e-cigarettes or as herbs to be smoked, semi-similar in appearance to marijuana. According to Men’s Health:
Part of what makes synthetic cannabis so dangerous is that there’s often no way to tell what chemicals are in the drug. According to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, there are now more than 150 different types of synthetic marijuana compounds now on the market, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a statement saying there are “no standards for making, packaging, or selling synthetic cannabinoid chemicals. That means that two packets of a brand-named product may have completely different chemicals… and may also be contaminated with other drugs or toxic chemicals.
An outbreak of salmonella linked to the herbal supplement kratom continues to grow. Kratom is used in low doses as a stimulant and in high doses as a pain reliever. Because kratom gives users a “legal high” it has skyrocketed in popularity, though its effects are not entirely understood. Additionally, the FDA, which would like to classify kratom as an opiate, has linked 44 reported deaths to the use of kratom.
According to the most recent update by the CDC, 35 states are now reporting outbreaks linked to kratom, with a total case count of 87. This is over double the number of cases reported earlier in March. Additionally, 35 percent of those infected have been hospitalized. No common brands or suppliers have been identified and because of this, the CDC recommends against consuming any kratom. This hasn’t stopped stores from advertising the product though, as evidenced by this brightly lit sign down the street from me:
I’m not going to tell you how to spend your money, but certainly there’s a better use for $40 than risking diarrhea for days and potential hospitalization.