New research published in Clinical Infectious Disease revealed that ready-to-bake, prepackaged cookie dough was the culprit of a 2009 multi-state E. coli outbreak that sickened 77 people across 30 states. About half of those infected were hospitalized.
After a thorough investigation, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were unable to fully pinpoint the ingredient in the cookie dough that caused the outbreak; however, CDC study author Dr. Karen Neil said researchers believe the problem was in the flour. Raw flour does not undergo the same rigorous process to kill pathogens the way in which eggs, molasses and sugar do in commercial products.
Here’s another reason hospitals should consider going paperless (and promote consistent, effective handwashing practices organization-wide): bacterial pathogens can survive on office paper long enough to be passed from one person’s hands to another – a discovery that is leading researchers to believe that paper might play a role in the spread of nosocomial pathogens.
For the study, samples of four bacterial pathogens (Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterococcus hirae) were prepared according to standard laboratory procedures. Sterile swatches of office paper were inoculated with the pathogens and bacterial survival was tested over seven days. To test the transmission of bacteria from one person’s hands to paper and back to another person’s hands, the fingertips of volunteers were inoculated with a nonpathogenic strain of E. coli; these volunteers then pressed the inoculum onto sterile paper swatches. Another group of volunteers whose hands had been moistened pressed their fingertips onto the contaminated paper swatches. Bacteria transferred to the moistened fingertips were cultivated according to standard laboratory procedures. The four tested organisms showed differences in length of survival depending on environmental room conditions, but were stable on paper for up to 72 hours and still cultivable after seven days. Test organisms were transferred to paper, survived on it, and were retransferred back to hands.
The conclusion: paper can serve as a vehicle for cross-contamination of bacterial pathogens in medical settings if current recommendations on hand hygiene aren’t meticulously followed.
Women who work a rotating (irregular) schedule that includes three or more night shifts per month, in addition to day and evening working hours in that month, may have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes when compared with women who only worked days or evenings, according to a new study led by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). In addition, the researchers found that extended years of rotating night shift work was associated with weight gain, which may contribute to the increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Previous studies have focused on the association between shift work and risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. The HSPH study is the largest study so far to look at the link between shift work and type 2 diabetes and the first large study to follow women. The findings were published online December 6, 2011, in the open access journal PLoS Medicine.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 15 million Americans work full time on evening shifts, night shifts, rotating shifts, or other irregular schedules. Shift work has been shown to disrupt sleeping patterns and other body rhythms, and has been associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome, conditions associated with type 2 diabetes.