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Keeping the Germs Away

Dr. Charles Gerba offered an interesting article on how to keep the kids away from germs this summer. Here is what they had to say.

So what are some of the common pitfalls leading to summer illness? First and foremost, foodborne viruses (more commonly referred to as “food poisoning”) reach peak levels due to moisture and warmer temperatures. But hand contact plays just as big of a role during the summer, leading to the spread of enteroviruses that can cause summer colds and aseptic meningitis.

This summer, stay proactive and encourage children to wash their hands often. Here are a few other useful tips for keeping germs away from your family during the warmer months.

  • Playtime faux pas: Soccer balls, footballs, bikes, slides and handheld game devices are among the most notable playtime items for spreading E. coli and other fecal bacteria. Likewise, sandboxes can become contaminated with fecal bacteria, usually from passing animals that use them as litter boxes. Especially following outdoor play, make sure children wash their hands for as long as it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice, and cover sandboxes when they’re not in use.
  • Coverplay slip cover: No doubt, for those who have young children, keeping their play area free from germs can be a hassle. Luckily, there is a great new product out there called Coverplay that helps fights germs around your child’s playyard. It’s simple, just slip it on! Helps fight bacteria and viruses to keep your child healthy.
  • Surface cleaning: The home environment is the easiest for a parent to control. Pay special attention to surfaces within the home — especially high-touch points like counters, doorknobs, keyboards, light switches and the like — as enteroviruses and some bacteria are known to survive on surfaces for as much as weeks.
  • Pool etiquette: Chlorine-resistant bacteria like Cryptosporidium (diarrhea-causing) should invoke a little more caution in your typical trip to the public pool. If you plan on attending a public pool, it’s a good idea to go in the morning. Or, set up a small wading pool in the backyard if your child is young enough.
  • Picnic problems: Between the temperature and nature, picnics can be bacterial hotspots — unless you take the proper precautions. Try to bring a table cloth or avoid picnic tables, popular hangouts for birds that in turn leave fecal matter behind. Foods, the most vulnerable of which is salad dressing, rapidly spoil in warmer temperatures, so always bring an ice-filled cooler along to keep food fresh.