The CDC Reminds You Not to Swim with Diarrhea

Just in time for summer, the CDC reminds you not to swim with diarrhea:

“During 2000–2014, public health officials from 46 states and Puerto Rico reported 493 outbreaks associated with treated recreational water. These outbreaks resulted in at least 27,219 cases and eight deaths.”

Over half the outbreaks occurred during June, July, and August, and hotel pools were the leading culprit location. The majority of outbreaks (89%) were caused by Cryptosporidiuma parasite that causes diarrhea, thus passing the gift along to all the friends you went swimming with. Other infectious outbreaks were caused by the bacteria Pseudomonas and Legionella. Of these three, Cryptosporidium is the most chlorine resistant and the hardest to kill.

The CDC recommends that you 1) don’t swim with diarrhea or an upset stomach, 2) check the inspection score of the pool you are about to submerse your body into, and 3) don’t swallow the water. I don’t know many people who actively try and swallow pool water, but it’s worth noting that it’s very easy to swallow even small amounts of water accidentally when swimming. Cheers to summer!

Waiter, There’s Still Salmonella in My Kratom

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.

Salmonella Infected Kratom

Kratom, a controversial plant used by people as an opiate substitute and recreational drug, has been linked to a salmonella outbreak. Health officials are warning that people should avoid kratom entirely, and smoke marijuana instead. Just kidding about second part.

Kratom, an “herbal supplement,” is used in low doses as a stimulant and in high doses as a pain reliever. According to WebMD,  “Its leaves have been used for hundreds of years to relieve pain. They can be eaten raw, but more often they’re crushed and brewed as tea or turned into capsules, tablets, and liquids.” Because kratom gives users a “legal high” it has skyrocketed in popularity, though its effects are not entirely understood. And desperate for something to ease the opiate epidemic, kratom has taken on a cult like following among some people.

The CDC reports that so far, 40 people have been infected with salmonella-laced kratom in 27 states. No deaths have been reported. The Washington Post sums up the two sides in the ongoing kratom battle:

Rapidly rising in popularity, kratom is hailed as a readily available pain remedy that is safer than traditional opioids (such as oxycodone), an effective addiction withdrawal aid and a pleasurable recreational tonic. Kratom also is assailed as a dangerous and unregulated drug that can be purchased on the Internet, a habit-forming substance that authorities say can result in opioid-like abuse and death.

Regardless, your kratom is likely tainted with salmonella so stop using it, unless you’re willing to risk days worth of diarrhea.

Bacteria Making Themselves at Home in Your Reusable Bags

It’s grocery shopping day and you are ready to conquer the crowds by zipping in and out of the story with your handy list and reusable grocery bag.  Not so fast! Did you know that reusable grocery bag of yours could contain bacteria that may lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and potentially death? That’s right, the norovirus has struck again!

Bag O’ Germs?

A soccer team in Oregon recently became infected with the norovirus and experts traced it to a sick teammate’s reusable grocery bag.  The bag was in the hotel room with the sick teammate and particles of the norovirus landed on the bag, which the other teammates were then exposed to.

The virus can live on objects for a lengthy time period.  The bag in question tested positive for norovirus two weeks later.

Back in 2010, a study was conducted that tested 84 reusable bags for coliform bacteria, a category that included E. coli. The report says researchers found E. coli in seven of the bags tested. Though the risk for infection is small,  researchers also found 97 percent of the people interviewed never washed their bags.

Some have dismissed this study because it was funded by the American Chemistry Council which represents makers of disposable plastic bags, saying they may have a vested interest in showing people their reusable bags are covered in germs.

The good news is that washing these bags regularly decreases contamination by 99.9 percent. As always, proper hygiene and hand washing also dramatically decreases your chance of becoming infected.

CDC Norovirus Fact Sheet