Health Officials Looking for Source of Salmonella Outbreak
A salmonella outbreak has sickened 388 people in 42 states, resulting in about 70 hospitalizations, Reuters reports. The outbreak began in September, and federal health officials are trying to pinpoint the source of the problem. Eggs, cheese, and poultry are the most common source of infection for the strain involved in this outbreak, called Salmonella typhimurium. "Because foods of animal origin may be contaminated with salmonella, people should not eat raw or undercooked eggs, poultry, or meat," David Daigle, a CDC spokesman, told Reuters. "Persons also should not consume raw or unpasteurized milk or other dairy products. Produce should be thoroughly washed." About 40,000 people report salmonella illnesses in the United States each year, according to the CDC, but it's very likely that many more cases don't get reported.
During a widespread salmonella outbreak last year, U.S. News explained how to foil salmonella using common-sense advice. Also, smart shopping and common sense in the kitchen can help keep families safe. A salmonella outbreak tied to dry dog food also occurred last year.
Antibiotics—Even Free Ones—Won't Cure Most Winter Ills
The eastern seaboard will soon be awash in free antibiotics, as Wegmans announced this week that the 72-store supermarket chain will make a 14-day supply of nine generic oral antibiotics available at no charge. Giant Foods and Stop & Shop had already announced similar programs, Michelle Andrews reports. Wegmans says the program is aimed at helping people get through cold and flu season and will end March 31. The fact is, most wintertime ailments—cold, flu, most sore throats, bronchitis, sinusitis—are caused by viruses, not bacteria, and won't respond at all to antibiotics, according to the CDC. But doctors, pressed for time and perhaps not entirely certain that their patient's illness isn't caused by a bacterial infection, often go ahead and prescribe a course of antibiotics anyway. If the drugs are free, the temptation to prescribe is even greater. This can lead to a second problem: antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotics don't help much for most sinus infections, so try these antibiotic-free tips for treating sinusitis, including doing nasal washes and trying other prescription and over-the-counter medications. Also, learn what to do for a stuffy nose.
How Teens Can Avoid Bogus Health Info Online
Teenagers aren't just planning parties on MySpace and other social networking sites—they're also learning how to manage asthma and other serious diseases, Nancy Shute reports. And the advice they find is often wrong. That's the conclusion of researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, who searched MySpace for information on managing asthma and found 195 forums and 36 groups on the subject. Many of the posts contained misinformation, the researchers found, including this doozy: Cocaine helps my asthma. (Not true, FYI.) Other information was correct, such as the advice to rinse and gargle after using Advair, a common asthma medication, to avoid getting a mouth and throat infection. How to sort the true from the bogus? Jennifer Knopf Munafo, a project specialist in the division of adolescent medicine at Cincinnati Children's who led the survey, says: "I think skeptical is a good term." Consider these three ways to cull the bad information and keep the good.