Germs That Can be Found in a Home

Rhinovirus

  • Incidence of rhinoviral infection averages 1 episode every 1-2 years per person.
  • Rhinoviruses cause up to 80% of colds during the autumn months in temperate climates.
  • One third of all colds are caused by Rhinovirus, which can stay infectious on surfaces for days.
  • Acute respiratory infections, predominantly rhinovirus infections, are estimated to cause 30-50% of time lost from work by adults and 60-80% of time lost from school by children.
  • Rhinoviruses can live up to three hours on your skin and on common objects such as doorknobs and telephones.
  • Rhinovirus is transmitted by touching infected surfaces and then touching eyes, nose or mouth; breathing in germs from an infected person sneezing or coughing; sharing silverware or drinks with an infected person, etc.

RSV

  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is one of the culprits that cause most respiratory infections in young children.
  • When a person has cold, thousands of droplets from a sneeze may contain millions of virus particles which can be infectious for hours or even several days.
  • A single unimpeded sneeze can send 2,000-5,000 bacteria-filled droplets into the air at 100mph!

Rotavirus

  • Rotavirus can remain in the environment for days and still be infectious.
  • Rotavirus causes infection in humans through contact with surfaces that are contaminated by fecal matter.
  • Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhea among children. It causes serious illness in nearly 55,000 children each year in the U.S.
  • Rotavirus causes 600,000 deaths annually worldwide.
  • Studies show that intestinal viruses may spread between children and shared toys within a few hours.
  • A contaminated toy is hazardous as children under 3 years of age may mouth toys for several minutes or hours each day.

How to get rid of Viruses (Rhinovirus, Rotavirus, RSV)

  • Empty waste baskets daily. Clean and disinfect.
  • Immediately clean body fluid spills and then disinfect the area - make sure the label says the product can destroy Rhinovirus, Respiratory Syncytial Virus or Rotavirus.
  • Regular disinfection may be beneficial in hotter, more humid climates where harmful organisms may survive for longer periods on surfaces.
  • Use a disinfectant that can destroy Rhinovirus, Respiratory Syncytial Virus or Rotavirus to clean your surfaces that you suspect have been contaminated.
  • Clean pacifiers and toys that may be mouthed with soap and hot water. Sanitize with dilute hypochlorite bleach. Follow by air drying or wipe with 60% or 70% alcohol.
  • When using a product to sanitize or disinfect, make sure to read the label and follow instructions carefully.

Staph

  • "Staph" (short for Staphylococcus) is a bacterium that can be found on every person’s skin.
  • It can also be found on nearly every surface people touch, like light switches, door knobs, toothbrushes and cupboards.
  • Staph can also be passed to surfaces by houseflies. It can also be passed through contaminated bedding.
  • Many common antibiotics do not work against Staph infections.

How to get rid of Touch Surface Bacteria (Enterococcus, Pseudomonas, Staph)

  • Disinfect contaminated surfaces with a product that can kill Staphylococcus, Pseudomonas or Enterococcus.
  • Wash contaminated laundry with soap or detergent and hot water (130°F/54°C). When washing at lower temperatures (below 45°C), use hypochlorite bleach or other laundry sanitizer.
  • Immediately clean body fluid spills and then disinfect the area with a product that can kill Staphylococcus, Pseudomonas or Enterococcus.
  • Do not share toothbrushes.
  • Old toothbrushes (3-4 mon.) should be replaced to avoid bacterial buildup and to optimize oral cleaning.
  • Surfaces used by pets, like your floors, should be regularly cleaned and disinfected.
  • When using a product to sanitize or disinfect, make sure to read the label and follow instructions carefully. 

Dust/Dust Mites

  • Dust mites live on dead skin cells and can be found in mattresses, pillows, carpets, bedclothes, stuffed toys and other fabric covered items.
  • Dust mites produce waste pellets and females lay one egg/day. Dust mites or their body fragments are considered the principal irritant in household dust.
  • Dead or alive, dust mites and their waste are common allergens that can trigger asthma.
  • Asthma is the leading cause of long-term illness in children.

How to get rid of Dust, Dust Mites and Allergens

  • Keep indoor humidity low (between 30% and 50%).
  • Cover mattresses and pillows in dust-proof zippered covers designed to prevent dust mites and their allergens from escaping.
  • Vacuum uncovered mattresses regularly and wash bedding once a week in hot water (130°F/54°C).
  • Vacuum carpets regularly.
  • Your doctor or allergy specialist may recommend a more aggressive approach, such as using miticides (products that kill dust mites).
  • Regularly dust to remove allergens that may accumulate.
  • Clean throw rugs at least every 3 days with a disinfectant in the wash water.
  • When using a product to sanitize or disinfect, make sure to read the label and follow instructions carefully.  

Mold

  • Mold is spread by tiny spores (think microscopic ‘seeds’) that constantly drift through indoor and outdoor air.
  • Mold can grow almost anywhere, but it grows much more quickly on a damp surface like shower curtains and windowsills. Continually damp carpet or rugs may be a breeding ground for mold.
  • Mold can grow very quickly, producing billions of inhalable particles. It can trigger asthma and other respiratory complaints.
  • In a damp location, mold can grow very quickly, producing billions of inhalable particles.
  • Mold can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat and lungs of both allergic and non-allergic persons.
  • Children are more susceptible to mold-related illness because their lungs and immune systems are still developing.

Trichophyton

  • Tricophyton has been found growing on the floors of locker rooms and public showers.
  • Your bathtub, throw rug, shower curtain or floors are the kind of warm, moist environments that Trichophyton needs to grow.
  • Trichophyton is the most common cause of athlete’s foot and ringworm.
  • Once infected, a person is likely to get a fungal infection again.
  • Athlete’s foot fungus can be passed from foot to foot via flooring and by a pet’s fur.

How to get rid of Mold and Fungus (Tricophyton)

  • Clean and dry wet or damp spots within 48 hours.
  • Launder area rugs frequently with soap or detergent and hot water (130°F / 54°C); if laundry is washed at a lower temperature (45°C), use hypochlorite bleach or a laundry sanitizer that can kill mold.
  • Regularly clean shower curtains and other surfaces where mold is likely to grow to prevent accumulation to levels that may become dangerous.
  • Run the bathroom fan or open the window when showering.
  • Use a disinfectant per label directions that can destroy mold and fungus to clean surfaces that may have become contaminated.
  • Thoroughly clean floors where family members walk barefooted to avoid spreading athlete's foot fungus.
  • Regularly clean surfaces where mold or fungus is likely to grow to prevent accumulation to levels that may become dangerous.
  • Wash mold from hard surfaces and dry completely.
  • Fix bathtub leaks promptly.
  • Empty and dry the humidifier daily to avoid mold and mildew growth.
  • Wash throw rugs often, using a disinfectant in the wash water. 

Enterococcus

  • Enterococcus may cause food poisoning, gastroenteritis (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea), dysentery and urinary tract infections.
  • Enterococcus is a normal part of our internal bacteria. They come from human and animal waste.
  • People with no outward signs of illness may excrete these harmful bacteria.
  • Enterococcus are usually found in moist areas of the home, such as kitchens and bathrooms, but may also be found on floors, walls, doorknobs and other hard surfaces throughout the house.
  • These bacteria can cause illness if they enter your body by ingestion or contact with scrapes, wounds, or vulnerable tissues such as the eyes.
  • In household settings it is not a significant problem with respect to causing infections, but for hospitalized patients and people in institutions Enterococcus can cause serious, life threatening infections.
  • In recent years many strains have developed resistance to this drug and thus are called vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE). This is usually passed to others by direct contact with stool, urine or blood containing VRE. It can also be spread indirectly via the hands of healthcare providers or on contaminated environmental surfaces.
  • VRE usually is not spread through casual contact such as touching or hugging or spread through the air by coughing or sneezing.
  • To prevent the spread of VRE, always wash hands thoroughly after using the bathroom, before preparing food, after close contact with persons who have VRE, and after removing gloves.

How to get rid of Touch Surface Bacteria (Enterococcus)

  • Disinfect contaminated surfaces with a product that can kill Staphylococcus, Pseudomonas or Enterococcus.
  • Wash contaminated laundry with soap or detergent and hot water (130°F/54°C). When washing at lower temperatures (below 45°C), use hypochlorite bleach or other laundry sanitizer.
  • Immediately clean body fluid spills and then disinfect the area with a product that can kill Staphylococcus, Pseudomonas or Enterococcus.
  • Do not share toothbrushes.
  • Old toothbrushes (3-4 mon.) should be replaced to avoid bacterial buildup and to optimize oral cleaning.
  • Surfaces used by pets, like your floors, should be regularly cleaned and disinfected.
  • When using a product to sanitize or disinfect, make sure to read the label and follow instructions carefully.  

E. coli

  • There are an estimated 25,000 cases of E. coli infections in the U.S. each year.
  • Complications from E. coli infection, particularly for children under 5, may lead to kidney failure and sometimes death.
  • Cutting salad on boards previously used for raw meat considerably increases the risk for illness due to E. coli infection.
  • Bacteria colonies with a population exceeding 50 million can live on a single dirty sponge!
  • E. coli contamination of meat may happen during cattle slaughter. One member of this bacterial family (strain O157:H7) can cause severe diarrhea and kidney damage.
  • E. coli can be transmitted from an infected person, by ingesting contaminated food or water, or from contact with contaminated utensils.

Salmonella/Campylobacter

  • Salmonella and Campylobacter are usually found during and right after food preparation with contaminated food.
  • Every year, approximately 40,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported in the United States.
  • Because many milder cases are not diagnosed or reported, the actual number of infections may be thirty or more times greater.
  • Campylobacter, an important cause of diarrhea, is often more common than salmonellosis.
  • Cleaning with detergent and hot water has been proven ineffective in reducing the frequency of contamination by these bacteria.
  • Leftover food from dishes provides an excellent breeding ground for bacteria and odors.
  • More than half of food borne infections reported in Europe and North America appear to be contracted in the home.

How to get rid of Food Bacteria (E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter)

  • Follow proper hygiene in the kitchen. Don't allow raw meat juice to come into contact with cold or uncooked foods.
  • Meat should be prepared on a separate cutting board from other foods.
  • Cutting boards can be sanitized with hypochlorite bleach
  • Prepare meats for cooking on surfaces that can be easily disinfected (e.g., plastic cutting boards, etc.).
  • Wash dishes promptly. Assure the sink is clean and free of food debris. Disinfect regularly. Avoid raw meat juice contamination in the sink, too.
  • Clean surfaces with detergent, hot water rinse and dry thoroughly. If rinsing is not possible, clean with detergent, followed by application of disinfectant.
  • Surfaces not heavily soiled may be treated with a combination detergent / disinfectant product.
  • Don’t put cooked food on surfaces that had raw meat on them previously.
  • Decontaminate surfaces before and between food preparation activities.
  • Wash hands before and after handling raw foods especially meats and poultry
  • Cook meats to 160 F and poultry to 180 F
  • Store leftovers in a shallow pan and refrigerate quickly
  • Keep hot food hot (140F) and cold foods cold when serving
  • When using a product to sanitize or disinfect, make sure to read the label and follow instructions carefully.  

Pseudomonas

  • Pseudomonas is a common bacterium that does not usually infect healthy tissues. However, there are few tissues that can resist infection if weakened or damaged in some way.
  • Pseudomonas can infect the urinary tract, respiratory system, skin and soft tissues.
  • Children with foot punctures are prone to Pseudomonas infections, which can lead to septic arthritis and endocarditis.
  • It favors moist areas such as sinks, toilets, pools, and hot tubs, and can usually withstand standard levels of pool chlorination.
  • People with weakened immune systems and diabetes should take extra precautions for prevention.
  • Some infections can be caused by the bacteria Pseudomonas that range from common and mild to rare and serious.
  • Pseudomonas are present in soil, water, and on the skin of people and animals.
  • It is difficult to say what causes Pseudomonas except that it is usually transferred by water and skin; and most healthy people will only occasionally develop any symptoms.

How to get rid of Touch Surface Bacteria (Enterococcus, Pseudomonas, Staph)

  • Disinfect contaminated surfaces with a product that can kill Staphylococcus, Pseudomonas or Enterococcus.
  • Wash contaminated laundry with soap or detergent and hot water (130°F/54°C). When washing at lower temperatures (below 45°C), use hypochlorite bleach or other laundry sanitizer.
  • Immediately clean body fluid spills and then disinfect the area with a product that can kill Staphylococcus, Pseudomonas or Enterococcus.
  • Do not share toothbrushes.
  • Old toothbrushes (3-4 mon.) should be replaced to avoid bacterial buildup and to optimize oral cleaning.
  • Surfaces used by pets, like your floors, should be regularly cleaned and disinfected.
  • When using a product to sanitize or disinfect, make sure to read the label and follow instructions carefully. 

Roaches

  • Sloppy housekeeping does not necessarily cause insect infestation.
  • Most infestations are accidental– insects enter the home through crevices or on packages brought into the home.
  • Roaches are the most common household pest (insect). They can carry Staph, Strep, Salmonella and intestinal germs.
  • Asthma is more common in people who are repeatedly exposed to roach infestations.

How to get rid of Insects (Roaches, Wasps, etc.)

  • Keep indoor humidity low (between 30% and 50% relative humidity).
  • Make sure that windows, screens, doors, baseboards and foundations are in good repair to prevent insects entering your home.
  • Do not leave food or garbage exposed and don't leave pet food or water out overnight.
  • Use poison bait or traps to control insects.
  • Check for pests hiding in packages before carrying them inside your home.

How to get rid of Rodents

  • Sloppy housekeeping does not necessarily cause the presence of rodents in the home.
  • To prevent an infestation, make sure to regularly clean places which often shelter rodents.
  • Do not leave food or garbage exposed overnight.
  • Check for pests hiding in packages before carrying them inside your home.
  • Make sure that windows, screens, doors, baseboards and foundations are in good repair to prevent insects entering your home.
  • When cleaning up any urine or droppings wear rubber gloves, spray urine and droppings with a disinfectant and let soak for 5 minutes.
  • Mop floors, clean countertops with a disinfectant, steam clean or shampoo upholstered furniture and carpets with evidence of rodent exposure, wash any bedding and clothing with laundry detergent in hot water if exposed to rodent urine or droppings.
  • Use poison bait or traps to control rodents.
  • Keep food storage areas clean and don’t allow crumbs to accumulate.

Pet Dander

  • Allergies to pets with fur or feathers are common, especially among people who have other allergies or asthma.
  • Dander is sticky and, while quite easily washed off of smooth surfaces, can persist in household fabrics (clothing, curtains, carpet, bedding, upholstered furniture, etc.)
  • Once in the air, these microscopic particles are inhaled into the nose or lungs to produce allergic symptoms. The particles can stay suspended in the air for long periods of time.
  • Pet dander can cause an allergic reaction in sensitive individuals, which can range from inflamed eyes and a runny nose to an asthma attack.
  • For about 20% to 30% of people with asthma, cat contact can trigger a severe asthma attack.

How to get rid of Pet Dander

  • To reduce the symptoms, disinfect hard surfaces (see product label instructions and follow directions) to neutralize the allergenic proteins.
  • Clean hard flooring (such as wood, tile and linoleum), washable throw rugs and carpeting. If you have wall-to-wall carpet, use special high filtration bags and high-efficiency particulate absorption (HEPA) filters on your vacuum to trap the tiny dander particles that many standard vacuum cleaners miss.
  • Consider having furnace ductwork professionally cleaned once a year. May also want to add an electrostatic filter to your forced air furnace or central air conditioning to trap dander particles.
  • Wash all bedding – sheets, blankets, pillowcases, comforters and mattress pads – in hot water.
  • Use a specialty fabric refresher product on soft surfaces and upholstered items – like couches, chairs, throw pillows, curtains, carpeting and pet beds – to reduce the amount of pet dander that becomes airborne from those surfaces.
  • Bathe your pets with allergen pet shampoos.
  • Have someone without a pet allergy brush the pet outside to remove dander as well as clean the litter box or cage.
  • When using a product to sanitize or disinfect, make sure to read the label and follow instructions carefully.

Pollen

  • The weed that causes 75% of all hay fever is ragweed which has numerous species.
  • Pollen allergies cause sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, coughing, postnasal drip, itchy nose and throat, dark circles under the eyes, and swollen, watery and itchy eyes.
  • For people with severe allergies, asthma attacks can occur.

How to get rid of Pollen

  • Good housekeeping practices, such as dusting and general cleaning, should help alleviate indoor exposure to pollen.
  • Limit outdoor activity during pollination periods when the pollen or mold count is high.
  • Use central air conditioning set on \"recirculate\" which exclude much of the pollen and mold from the air in your home.

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