National Digest: Strep bacteria linger long after cleaning

HEALTH
Strep bacteria linger long after cleaning

That crib toy you got your son? It might be just the thing to give him strep throat, according to a new study.

The bacteria that cause strep throat may linger far longer on inanimate objects than previous lab tests suggested, according to University of Buffalo researchers.

Streptococcus pneumoniae, the leading cause of ear and respiratory tract infection in children, and Streptococcus pyogenes, the bacterial culprit behind strep throat and skin infections, lingered on surfaces in cribs, toys and books many hours after they had been cleaned, according to a study published Friday in the journal Infection and Immunity.

Conventional wisdom held that both bacteria died quickly outside a human host, and that the prevailing means of infection came through immediate human contact or via expelled droplets from coughing or sneezing.

“These findings should make us more cautious about bacteria in the environment,” said Anders Hakansson, a University of Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences microbiologist who is senior author of the study. Hakansson said he believes that some items could serve as reservoirs where the bacteria can linger for as long as several months.

Researchers based their findings on tests conducted on items in a day-care center, where they found four of five stuffed toys tested positive for S. pneumoniae, and several other surfaces showed evidence of S. pyogenes – even after cleaning. The testing was done in the early morning before the center opened, long after the last human contact with the objects.

— Los Angeles Times

NEW YORK
People line up for Good Riddance Day

Hoping to forget the heartbreaks and hard memories of 2013, people lined up Saturday in New York’s Times Square to discard physical reminders of unpleasant experiences with the help of industrial shredding machines.

The annual Good Riddance Day event, held three days before New Year’s Eve, allows people to symbolically purge bad memories by putting photos, documents or written reminders through a massive paper shredder in hopes of clearing a path to a brighter future.

Thomas Avila, 26, one of the first people in line on for the shredder, said 2013 was a roller coaster for him. One of the hardest parts, he said, was telling friends and family he was gay and finding some of them could not accept him. Shredding the memory was a way of saying “goodbye to my old life,” said Avila, who lives in New York’s Queens borough. “I know things will get better.” Avila had written in his note for the shredder that he was saying goodbye to “horrible debt and people who betray.”

The shredding practice on Good Riddance Day was inspired by a Latin American tradition in which New Year’s revelers stuff dolls with objects representing bad memories and set them on fire, according to the organizer, the Times Square Alliance.

For many, the shredding was an attempt to cast off bad habits or bad relationships.

“I’m shredding the reminder of finding out the truth through DNA testing that my daughter is not my biological daughter,” said Sam Tlali, 39, who was visiting from Johannesburg, South Africa.

I think after I do this I will feel relieved,” Tlali said.

Gabby Trofa, 19, a college student from Aston, Pa., visiting New York for New Year’s, had a different goal.

“I want to say good riddance to any stress and worries and the people who bring me down,” Trofa wrote in her note.

— Reuters

Pennsylvania woman fired for refusing to get a flu shot: A pregnant woman who refused to get a flu shot due to her fear of miscarrying has been fired from her job with a health-care company. Dreonna Breton worked as a registered nurse for Horizons Healthcare Services in central Pennsylvania. The company requires all personnel to get the influenza vaccine. Breton contended the immunizations may not be safe enough for pregnant women. She suffered two miscarriages earlier this year, and didn’t want to risk a third. Company spokesman Alan Peterson said it’s unconscionable for a health-care worker not to be immunized. He also said pregnant women are more susceptible to the flu. Breton offered to wear a mask during flu season. But the 29-year-old was fired Dec. 17. Federal officials say the flu causes about 200,000 hospitalizations annually.

Lawsuit demands end to odors at La Jolla Cove in California: A lawsuit has been filed demanding the city eradicate the “foul, noxious and sickening odors” left by birds and sea lions defecating on the rocks next to La Jolla Cove. The stink offends the patrons of some of La Jolla’s best-known restaurants overlooking the cove and visitors to the famed La Valencia Hotel, according to the lawsuit filed by a group calling itself Citizens for Odor Nuisance Abatement. While the stinky guano is the product of the cormorants and the sea lions, the real culprits are officials at City Hall who approved a fence keeping people away from the rocks where the birds and mammals hang out, the lawsuit said. If the fence were not there, people would scamper down to the rocks, and the birds and marine mammals would depart to defecate elsewhere, the lawsuit says. The problem has vexed city officials for two years. One problem is that federal law protects the marine mammals from being harassed. The group is seeking a hearing in San Diego County Superior Court to demand that the city take down the fence keeping people from the rocks.

— From news services

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