drug-resistant germs

  1. Your cutting board is filthy with germs

    A major source of germs in your home

    How clean is your kitchen? Probably not as clean as you think -- because the average American kitchen is crawling with germs.

    You'll probably find more bacteria in your kitchen than you will in your bathroom.

    There are germs in your sink, germs on your sponge, germs on your counter and more.

    And some of the worst of these ugly bugs -- the ones most likely to make you and your family sick -- are probably on your cutting board.

    The problem isn't that you didn't clean it. Of course you cleaned it, right? It's that the powerful new germs turning up in your meat are stronger than ordinary soap and water.

    As a result, a new study out of Switzerland finds that 3.5 percent of all household cutting boards are crawling with multidrug-resistant E. coli bacteria.

    That may not sound like a big number, but that adds up to millions of cutting boards infected with disease-causing germs -- and you can bet the numbers are even higher here in the United States, where animals on factory farms are routinely given high doses of antibiotics.

    The drugs make them fat, and help them to survive the cramped and horrific conditions. But the overuse of the drugs on factory farms has also led to the rise of drug-resistant germs -- and those germs end up in your meat and on your cutting board.

    These superbugs have become so common in meat that when Consumer Reports tested 300 packages of supermarket chicken, they found disease-causing bacteria in 97 percent of them, and drug-resistant germs in half.

    And last year, government tests found disease-causing bacteria in 87 percent of 480 meat samples, with superbugs in half.

    So there are two actions to take here.

    First, buy only organic meats. Because the animals can't be given antibiotics, you're less likely to encounter drug-resistant germs.

    You'll also get safer, healthier and better-tasting foods.

    And second, keep your cutting board clean -- and that means more than just soap and water. Use 3 percent hydrogen peroxide.

    Spill some onto the board, rub it in with a clean dishtowel or a paper towel and then rinse it off.

  2. How to clean your dirty dentures

    "Biofilm" is a word you don't hear everyday. But if you wear dentures, it's something you're exposed to every time you pop them in.

    It's a thin film of goo that covers the dentures. Most people assume it's normal, since anything you put in your mouth for hours at a time (or more) is going to get pretty wet and sticky.

    But the biofilm is more than just saliva. It's a layer of bacteria, and if you wear dentures you could be giving some of the worst-of-the-worst bugs a free ride right into your mouth -- including drug-resistant germs such as MRSA.

    And if you're thinking disease-causing bugs in your mouth is a bad idea, you're exactly right.

    Fortunately, a new study finds an easy way to kill these bugs -- and that's to nuke them. Just pop your dentures into the microwave for three minutes, and the germs will all be killed.

    Obviously, don't try putting your dentures into your mouth right away, since they'll be pretty hot at that point.

    If you don't like to use the microwave (and I don't blame you), or if your dentures have metal parts and can't be microwaved, then soak them in a solution of 2 percent chlorhexidine gluconate for at least 10 minutes.

    That's an antiseptic you can find in many stores or online.

    Either option killed 100 percent of all the bacteria in the biofilm in a series of recent tests, the results of which were published in the Journal of the American Dental Association.

    The researchers also tried a solution of sodium hypochlorite -- but since that one only worked in the short-term, stick to either chlorhexidine gluconate or the nuclear option.

    In addition, skip the toothpaste and regular toothbrush and use a stiff brush with plain old soap and water.

    Just be sure to take them out of your mouth first.

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