Posts Tagged ‘hand washing’

Turtles look cute but are dangerous to pregnant women and young children

Friday, January 27th, 2017

boy w pet turtleIf you’re pregnant or have children under the age of 5, you should remove any reptile or amphibian you may have in your home. That’s because they can carry salmonella, a bacteria that can make you and your children very sick – it can even be life threatening.

The salmonella bacteria is commonly carried by reptiles, such as lizards, snakes and turtles, and amphibians, such as frogs, salamanders and newts. Chickens, ducks and geese can also carry salmonella.

Pregnant women, infants, young children and anyone with a weakened immune system are at a higher risk of getting the infection.

The risk of salmonella is so serious that the sale of turtles less than 4 inches in size has been banned in the United States since 1975. These little creatures may look cute but they have the potential to cause serious disease. The CDC warns: “Don’t be fooled Just because you can’t see the bacteria doesn’t mean they aren’t there.”

According to the FDA, the death of a 4-week-old baby in Florida in 2007 “was linked to Salmonella from a small turtle. The DNA of the Salmonella from the turtle matched that from the infant.”

Scary stuff.

How can you get infected with Salmonella?

You can get infected by eating foods that are contaminated with Salmonella, such as poultry, meat and eggs, or by touching an infected animal.

Even if a pet reptile has a negative test for salmonella, it doesn’t mean the animal is not infected. It may mean that the animal was just not “shedding salmonella” on the day it was tested. Salmonella can be found in feces (poop), soil, water (including fish tank water), and the food and bedding of infected animals. Salmonella germs can spread easily to an animal’s fur, feathers and scales.

Symptoms of salmonellosis

Signs of salmonellosis usually start a half day to three days after contact and symptoms last from four to seven days. Call your health care provider right away if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Belly pain
  • Blood in your stool (poop) or dark or amber-colored urine (pee)
  • Dehydration (not enough water or fluids in your body)
  • Fever or chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle pains
  • Nausea, diarrhea or vomiting (throwing up)

To check for salmonellosis, your health care provider will take a stool sample and send it to a lab for testing.

Is Salmonella dangerous during pregnancy?

Yes. It can lead to health complications during pregnancy, including:

  • Dehydration
  • Bacteremia (bacteria in the blood), which can lead to problems, like meningitis, a serious infection that causes swelling in the brain and spinal cord.
  • Reactive arthritis (also called Reiter’s syndrome), which can cause swelling or pain in your joints.

Salmonellosis can be passed to your baby during pregnancy. If your baby is born with salmonellosis, she may have diarrhea and fever after birth. She also may develop meningitis.

Bottom line

Don’t have turtles and other reptiles or amphibians in your home. If you touch them at a petting zoo or other place, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands immediately after coming into contact with them.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Clean hands stop germs

Monday, October 19th, 2015

One of the easiest ways to stay healthy is to…(drumroll please)…wash your hands. It’s quick and easy. Try singing the “Happy Birthday” song to yourself while you lather your hands with soap.

Wash your hands before and after activities surrounding food, toilet use, wound or cut treatment, pet care, garbage and diaper handling and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.This week is International Infection Prevention Week. Hand washing can help you avoid getting sick and prevent the spread of germs to others.

The March of Dimes is now on Vine – check out our fun videos!

What is coxsackievirus?

Monday, June 18th, 2012

feverMost of us think that as summer approaches all of those pesky winter viruses are gone. Although many common viruses are more likely to be passed around during the cold winter months, as summer approaches there is one virus that many parents may be dealing with—coxsackievirus. Coxsackieviruses are part of the enterovirus family of viruses (which also include polioviruses and hepatitis A virus) that live in the human digestive tract. Coxsackievirus is sometimes also known as hand, foot and mouth disease.

This virus is very contagious and is typically passed from person to person through nose and throat secretions (such as saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus), or feces of infected persons. This of course means that young children are particularly susceptible. In fact, the infection usually occurs in children under 5 years of age, but occasionally can occur in adults too. Outbreaks are seen most often in the summer and fall, especially in more temperate climates.

The good news is that coxsackievirus sounds a lot worse than it usually is. Most coxsackievirus infections aren’t serious. They typically cause only mild signs and symptoms, such as fever, sore throat, joint pain, and headache. Doctors usually diagnose it by the tell-tale blister-like rash on the hands, feet and in the mouth. This usually develops one to two days after the initial symptoms.

There is no specific treatment for coxsackievirus. It is a virus so antibiotics will not be effective in treating it. Most physicians recommend rest, fluids, and over-the-counter pain relievers or fever reducers when appropriate. There might be a slightly elevated risk for complications during pregnancy, so if you think you have it be sure to show it to your provider.

Hand washing is the best prevention for coxsackievirus. And of course if your child does develop this, it is important that she stays home from school or daycare until she is better so that other children do not become infected. The length of illness varies but it usually lasts for 2 or 3 days. Coxsackievirus is one of those things that most parents have to deal with at some point. Just know that soon it will be over and your little one will be back to her normal self.