Some Parents Favor their Kids to Suck on Chicken Pox Lollipops

There are some parents that avoid giving their children vaccines, therefore turn to “natural immunity” against the disease by allowing their kids to suck on mail-ordered lollipops already licked by sick kids. There was a Facebook page called “Find a Pox Party in Your Area,” which displayed parents advertising to ship infected lollipops around the country. The Facebook page has been shut down. There was about 1,000 “likes” for this page.

There are many risks to allow your kids to suck on lollipops by other kids. Who knows how many other bacteria, germs, diseases, etc is on the lollipops? Dr. Bill Schaffner, chair of the Depart. Of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University of Medicine, says it’s not even a good way to transmit chickenpox, because usually the virus has to be breathed in.

Only about 6% of parents don’t vaccinate their children with the chickenpox vaccine.

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Flu-Proofing Your Home

As the official influenza season begins—and fears about swine flu ramp up—it’s important to find ways to keep winter’s ever-present illness at bay. That’s especially true this year, as one in every 20 outpatient doctor visits will be for the flu, as influenza is commonly known—twice what it is in an average year.

But dealing with the virus that causes the flu can be tricky. Health officials recommend getting a yearly flu vaccine, and they urge everyone to protect themselves with one time-honored tactic: wash your hands, well and often. That may be the single best way to stop the disease in its tracks.

But in case you find yourself facing an encroaching onslaught of the illness though coworkers or school-age kids, This Old House has a few strategies to make life as hard as possible for the flu—or any germs, for that matter—to take root in your house.

The sink, the telephone, children’s toys, and doorknobs are popular landing sites for virus and bacteria. If someone is sick at home, disinfect daily, especially the remote control and the phone. Charles Gerba, microbiologist and author of The Germ Freak’s Guide to Outwitting Colds and Flu, says remote controls and countertops can be the germiest locale in the whole house. “What’s the first thing you do after you call in sick? Pick up the remote control,” he says. “Sixty percent of them contain influenza virus in the home of a sick person.”

In fact, Gerba says, remote controls are the germiest thing in hotel and hospital rooms. And since a virus like influenza spreads through touching something a sick person has also touched, or an object that’s been sneezed on, cleaning off the places your hand usually goes is most important.

According to Gerba, the home office is another place to watch out for germs. “Desktops have 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat,” he says. Gerba says to disinfect your desktop weekly, along with the rest of the house. This could reduce your exposure to colds and flu by as much as 50 percent.

Your kitchen sponge should be replaced every couple of weeks. If that runs counter to your frugal ways, you can microwave it for one minute or run it in the dishwasher to eliminate germs.

Beware of dust rags, dishrags, mops and other cleaning tools. Unless sanitized between uses, they only spread around the germs you are trying to kill. “It’s a free ride for the virus,” says Gerba. Some of the cleanest houses he’s tested had the highest germ counts. And get this: a few untidy bachelor pads tested very low for germs, which he attributes to lazy housekeeping. “They don’t move anything around, everything is in the sink or the garbage.”

But you don’t have to descend into bachelor habits to defeat contagion. Gerba advises heavy reliance on paper towels. If you don’t want to stockpile disposable towels, wash and dry cleaning tools at high temperatures so your house is clean and germ-free.

There’s a lot of goods that tout themselves as “anti-bacterial” on the label, from floor tile and paint, to hand cleanser and magic markers. The Environmental Protection Agency has a list of 500 products that disinfect hard, non-porous, surfaces against flu. It includes common household cleaners such as Pin Sol, Clorox, and Lysol. Look for the word “disinfect” or “sanitize” on the label; that means the EPA has tested and approved its germ killing power.

Article courtesy of Edited for length.

Popularity and the Flu

As any teenager will tell you, being popular is totally awesome. But it has a downside: According to a new study, popular people tend to catch the flu first.

When the flu is going around, people at the center of social networks—those who are named as a friend by others—come down with the virus about two weeks earlier than a randomly selected group of people, the study found. Monitoring the health of these socially connected people could serve as an early warning system for flu epidemics and outbreaks of other infectious diseases, the researchers say.

The study, which appears in the journal PLoS ONE, was based on a concept known as the “friendship paradox”: When people are asked to name their friends, their friends tend to have more social contacts than they do.

“If you take a random group of people and you ask them to nominate their friends, their friends will be more central in the network than they are,” says one of the study’s authors, Nicholas Christakis, MD, a professor of medical sociology at Harvard Medical School, in Boston. “That means you can identify central individuals who are more likely to catch contagions earlier.”

In the study, Dr. Christakis and his co-author, James Fowler, PhD, a professor of medical genetics at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, chose 319 Harvard undergraduates at random and asked them to name their friends, which yielded a group of 425 students who were named at least once.

Roughly one-third of the students reported catching the flu in the fall and winter of 2009. Students in the “friends” group were diagnosed 14 days earlier, on average, than those in the randomly chosen group. And the epidemic peaked among the friends group a full 46 days before it peaked in the general population of students.

Philip Polgreen, MD, an assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Iowa, in Iowa City, called the findings “promising and exciting.” Identifying a group of central individuals using the method described in the study would provide a simple way of tracking and fighting epidemics, especially in self-contained settings such as college campuses and military bases, he says.

“Checking for disease among the ‘Kevin Bacons’ is an appealing concept,” Dr. Polgreen says, referring to the actor who is famously connected to other stars through fewer than six degrees of separation.

Public health officials already use several methods to track influenza outbreaks, but the data tends to be a week or two behind the actual epidemic. Even two weeks of warning would help doctors diagnose cases of the flu earlier and urge still-healthy people to adopt preventive measures, says Dr. Polgreen, who has studied social networks and infectious disease but wasn’t involved in the new research.

Although the study looked at a relatively small group of college students, there’s no reason social networks couldn’t be used to monitor flu epidemics on a city, state, or national level, Dr. Christakis says.

Justin Lessler, PhD, an influenza expert and research associate at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in Baltimore, is skeptical that the flu tracking method the researchers propose would be as useful as they claim, however.

“Their idea and the way they attacked it are very clever,” Lessler says. But, he adds, the study doesn’t prove that their method would be any better—or more cost-effective—than flu surveillance techniques already being used. “It’s not clear that it gives any benefit over just looking at health care facilities and waiting for people to come there, which is going to be a lot cheaper,” he says.

This is merely the latest study from Dr. Christakis and Fowler to examine the spread of health conditions and behaviors through social networks. In the past several years, the researchers have published similar studies on obesity, alcohol consumption, smoking, depression, happiness, and loneliness.

Article courtesy of Anne Harding for

Skin Care and Infection Control

Skin Care and Infection Control products soothe and clean sensitive areas, help combat presistent exposure to moisture, and offer protection against germs and disease.  Here are some products we recommend-

Baza ® Barrier Cream and Anti-fungal Cream
Helps maintain healthy skin and protects against moisture.

Calmoseptine Cream
Multi-purpose moisture barrier cream with cooling menthol. Temporarily relieves discomfort and itching. Protects skin from irritations caused by moisture.

Lantiseptic Cream
Emollient ointment with 3.5% lanolin. Encourages proper moisture balance. Protects skin from irritation due to diaper dermatitis. Gentle to highly sensitive skin.

A & D Ointment
Emollient rich in vitamins A & D. Thin consistency is quickly absorbed. Promotes healing of diaper rash, minor burns, sun burns and skin irritations.

Perineal Wash
No rinse conditioning formula removes waste matter for effective cleaning of perineal area. Helps reduce odors, reduces risk of skin irritation and breakdown.

Wet Wipes
Alcohol free wipes contain aloe and lanolin to improve skin care and comfort. Popular with caregivers and patients.

Exam Gloves
Non-sterile, easy to slip on and off gloves protect against blood borne pathogens and micro biologically transmitted diseases. High quality for durability and strength.

Hand Sanitizer
Alcohol based gel effectively kills germs.