‘Targeted Hygiene’ Embraces Some Dirt and Germs

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, July 3, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Somewhere between the Mom who obsessively wipes down every knob and toy her child might touch, and the Dad who thinks rolling in the dirt is “good” for kids, there’s a healthy medium, British experts say.

“We have to find a way to protect against infectious diseases and harmful microbes, whilst at the same time sustaining exposure to the essential beneficial microbes in our world,” explained Sally Bloomfield.

Bloomfield is a member of the International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene, and also the co-author of a new report that surveyed British adults on their attitude towards dirt and germs in the home.

The 2018 survey, from the Royal Society for Public Health, suggests people are confused about how much dirt is OK. A lot of that confusion is probably coming from the rise of the “hygiene hypothesis” — the notion that today’s homes are overly sanitized, and kids need contact with germs to build up healthy immune systems.

But this notion can be taken too far, as Bloomfield’s group found.

In fact, nearly one in four people polled agreed with the statement that “hygiene in the home is not important because children need to be exposed to harmful germs to build their immune system.”

Men were twice as likely as women to express that opinion.

On the other hand, misconceptions around the level of “danger” posed by dirt were also common.

Bloomfield’s team found that “almost two-thirds of those we surveyed (61%) said touching a child’s dirty hands after they have been playing outside was likely to spread harmful germs.”

But that’s simply not true. In fact, “there is little evidence that outdoor dirt and soil is contaminated with harmful microbes (unless there are animals nearby),” according to the report.

Different germs, different hazards

Bloomfield, a researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the key thing to remember is that all germs are not created equal.

Exposure to diverse microbes from other people, domestic animals and the natural environment do help build a healthy immune system and microbiome — the varied microbes normally living in the gut and respiratory tract, experts agree. However, exposure to the wrong types of germs can both weaken the microbiome and cause infections.


And if those infections require antibiotics, “good” bacteria in the gut get destroyed along with the bad, they pointed out.

So, how to find a balance between being a compulsive germaphobe who’s constantly cleaning or the lax parent letting kids chow down on mud pies?

Bloomfield believes a new, more nuanced model, called “targeted hygiene,” is probably the answer.

Targeted hygiene means intervening with kids and their environment, but only when you can stop the risk of infection. This doesn’t necessarily mean avid cleaning. Cleaning does get rid of visible dirt, but it won’t necessarily reduce the risk of infection.

What does? Handwashing.

Handwashing is a simple component of targeted hygiene, and should be timed to certain activities, Bloomfield said.

“Our own bodies, our food and our domestic animals are the most likely sources of spread of infection — so the times that matter are [times such as] when we handle raw food, when we use the toilet, when we care for our pets, when we are infected or caring for someone who is infected,” she explained.

So, be sure to wash your hands well:

  • when you first come home;
  • if you’ve been caring for or playing with a pet;
  • after toileting;
  • before eating or preparing food;
  • after handling raw meat, fruits or vegetables;
  • after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose.

‘Common sense’ clean

Most — but not all — of the British adults surveyed seem to understand the value of hand washing, since “73% of respondents said they ‘always’ washed their hands thoroughly with soap after using the toilet and after preparing raw meat,” the report found.

In addition to hand washing, Bloomfield said other important measures include cleaning surfaces that come into contact with food, cleaning surfaces regularly touched by many people, and washing dishcloths immediately after using them so they don’t spread germs.

Dr. Aaron Glatt is a spokesperson for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. He reviewed the new report and said he “likes the idea of targeted hygiene.”

“Good common sense remains the best way to prevent infection,” Glatt said. “You don’t need to wash your hands 40 times a day, but appropriate hand washing needs to be stressed. If you’ve just come out of the bathroom or are going to be preparing foods, wash your hands.”


When it comes to routine cleaning, Glatt said the kitchen and bathrooms are two major areas that need attention.

He agreed that pets can potentially be a point of transmission for infection, but if they’re cared for properly, they shouldn’t be a concern.

“We even allow pets into the hospital for therapy,” Glatt said. “In general, kids and pets interact in a positive way.”

Again, common sense should be your guide: “Kids shouldn’t let a pet lick their plate and then eat from it,” Glatt said.

WebMD News from HealthDay


SOURCES: Sally Bloomfield, honorary professor, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene, United Kingdom; Aaron E. Glatt, spokesperson, Infectious Diseases Society of America, and chair of medicine, South Nassau Communities Hospital, Long Island Medical Center, New York; June 2019,Too Clean or Not Too Cleanreport, Royal Society for Public Health

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Red State Idaho Embraces Obamacare Insurance Exchange — Reluctantly


“There is an independent spirit of Idahoans and we are rising to the challenge,” Amy Dowd, the exchange executive director, says in her office across from the Capitol. The office is so new that the sign on the front door is written on 8 x 10 paper, the cream colored walls are bare and printers sit in their boxes.

Working with a $ 20 million federal planning grant, the exchange has plenty to do to be ready to open for enrollment Oct 1, with coverage to take effect Jan. 1.  By mid-August it hopes to choose a name, a website address and a logo. It also must train insurance agents and other groups how to use the site, and state regulators must approve the health plans.

A lot is a stake. About 200,000 of Idaho’s 1.6 million residents will be eligible to buy coverage in the exchange which will also sell insurance to small businesses. While the state has some of the lowest insurance costs in the nation, it has an 18 percent uninsured rate, higher than the national average.

Blue Cross of Idaho has already launched a web site called to publicize the new exchange and plans to work with community groups, local colleges and the state’s library system to promote it. Spokeswoman Karen Early said that like residents in most states, Idahoans are confused about how the exchange will work.

If the exchange is successful, proponents — including some Republican lawmakers and employers — say it could help persuade skeptical lawmakers to expand Medicaid, the other central piece of Obamacare, expected to come up again next year.

Rep. Fred Wood, a retired emergency room physician who heads the Idaho House Health and Welfare Committee, says lawmakers came to the realization this spring they could no longer fight Obamacare. “The fact is, that gig is up and it’s going to happen, so let’s make sure we do it our way, not someone else’s way,” he says.

Wood’s daughter, Ashley, is one of nearly 300,000 uninsured state residents. She works as a bartender nearly 40 hours a week at Bardenay, a restaurant-distillery in downtown Boise, but has not been offered coverage. “I worry about it as I’m now 30 and getting to the time in my life to have babies,” she says as the weekday lunch crowd gathered.

She says the lowest price insurance she’s found is $ 175 a month and that’s too expensive for her. She hopes to find a better price through the exchange.

Employers with more than 50 full-time employees like Bardenay owner Kevin Settles will be required to offer coverage under the health law beginning in 2015.

Settles, who is on the exchange board of directors, says the mandate would require him to offer insurance to about 60 employees, including Wood.

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Marijuana Legalization Sounds Good to LA’s New Mayor: Garcetti Embraces Common Sense

“…if in the future, California’s voters want it for casual use, for me, it’s not a problem.”

— Mayor: Garcetti

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The frenzied campaign meant to squeeze out 75% of the cities collectives…may have inadvertently brought out the pro-pot vote in support for LA’s newly elected [and weed friendly] mayor, Eric Garcetti.

Voters in the city of Angels – long known for their schizophrenia, have decided to tap one of their own Councilman for the city’s top position. That’s right, LA City Councilman Eric Garcetti – a pro-pot legalization proponent. So, while some of the less enlightened voters of Los Angeles were busy stripping away their neighbors access to medical marijuana collectives – with one vote. They were potentially putting in office an ally for marijuana legalization, with the other vote. Setting the stage for 2016 election and hopefully the outright legalization of cannabis for recreational purposes in the Golden State.

During a short interview with Univision’s Jorge Ramos on Sunday, Garcetti was asked if he thought pot use should be legalized for  casual use….

Marijuana was important for medicinal use, he said. “But if in the future, California’s voters want it for casual use, for me, it’s not a problem.”

He went on to suggest that enforcement of marijuana laws was diverting law enforcement from more important tasks.

“I want to use the police department’s resources for more serious crimes, but they are usually tied up in these crimes that aren’t as important,” Garcetti said. “Still, it would need to be decided by a state-wide vote.” Source:

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