Bacteria Show Up in Hospital Rooms, Again

We get it — hospitals are crawling with germs. If it's not your cell phone, the doctor's coat or even the hands-free water faucet, then it's the privacy curtain around the bed that's tainted with unwanted bacteria.
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Researchers from the University of Iowa presented data at a scientific conference in Chicago this week showing that they had found disease-causing bugs, including drug-resistant varieties like MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and VRE (vancomycin-resistant enterococcus), on 95% of hospital room privacy curtains tested. Brand new curtains were contaminated within a week, the researchers said.

The team tested 43 curtains in 30 hospital rooms twice a week for three weeks, taking 180 swab cultures total. They found:

  • 12 of 13 new curtains were contaminated within 7 days
  • 41 of 43 curtains were contaminated on at least one occasion
  • MRSA was found on 21% of curtains
  • VRE was found on 42% of curtains

One of the authors of the study received consulting fees from PurThread Technologies, a company that makes antimicrobial fabrics for hospitals — including, hey, privacy curtainss.

Luckily, there's an easier and cheaper way for doctors to prevent the spread of disease-causing bacteria from curtains (or anywhere) to patients: by washing their hands.

Killer Canteloupes

Killer Cantaloupes: 8 Deaths Attributed to Contaminated Melons

An outbreak of illness caused by listeria found in one Colorado company's cantaloupe has now killed eight people, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). So far, no deaths have occurred in California, though as of yesterday's CDC update, one person has been sickened in our state.

A total of 55 illnesses associated with the contaminated fruit have been reported in 14 different states.

One distributor, Colorado's Jensen Farms, has been linked to the outbreak. They recently issued a voluntary recall of all their Rocky Ford Cantaloupe, shipped between July 29 and September 10 to at least 17 states. All of the illnesses were reported after August 4th, says the CDC.

The FDA urges consumers who have cantaloupes affected by the recall to just toss the fruit, rather than try to wash them off then eat them, since the contamination be inside the melon as well.

Listeriosis is a rare, but sometimes fatal, infection. Pregnant women, people over the age of 60, and consumers with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to infection. The CDC has more information about listeriosis.