It seems like every time we turn around there is another disease outbreak. With SARS a few years ago and H1N1 (the swine flu) a couple years ago, disease epidemics are becoming more common place than many people would like to believe.
So what is the big problem? Diseases spread quickly from people to people and can debilitate nations. Do you remember how much hysteria the swine flu caused? People were lining up all night to get a flu shot in hopes of staving off the disease. While most health insurance plans covered the shot, the hysteria surrounding the vaccine mad it near impossible for the health departments to keep up with the demand.
Recently an E. coli outbreak in Germany grabbed headlines. What is the big deal with E. coli? It was not like most diseases that can be avoided by washing your hands. It was found in a common food: spinach, lettuce and tomatoes. The disease originated from bean sprouts and it had Europe in a panic. More than four Americans have contracted the disease.
The hardest part about this E. coli outbreak was that it was found in an unusual place: in produce. It spread quickly to other produce that made it difficult for farmers to keep their crops.
While this was a bit of a freak incident, you should do everything you can to avoid catching diseases.
E.coli may be bad enough to cause death, but not necessarily. It has often been described as one of the most painful stomach flues. One way is to make sure all of the meat you are eating must be cooked thoroughly. Raw meat is one of the easiest ways to contract E. coli. Even slightly pink meat can carry the disease. To avoid this mistake, make sure the thickest part of your meat has no pink parts and that it is cooked to the right temperature. Avoid cutting food on the same area as raw meat before thoroughly cleaning it. The raw juices can transfer to other foods, also sparking the disease.
Another way to prevent E. coli is to wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom. This will also prevent many other diseases. While this should seem like a no brainer, you would be surprised how many people do not wash their hands properly or at all. (Yes, some people do not wash their hands after using the bathroom. I have witnessed this at work. I am just as grossed out by it as you are.) Fecal matter can contain E. coli and other diseases, so wash your hands thoroughly. If you are not sure if you are doing it right, sing ‘Happy Birthday’ and wash your hands for the duration. To ensure you are safeguarded from germs from those who do not wash their hands, use a paper towel to open the door handle in the bathroom, one of the most germy places.
While some diseases cannot be prevented, you should do everything you can so they do not get spread.