Health Notes: Follow these hygiene tips at the beach, poolIf you plan to spend time at the beach or pool this weekend, health officials hope you’ll do your part to keep illness away.
By: Compiled by John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
If you plan to spend time at the beach or pool this weekend, health officials hope you’ll do your part to keep illness away.
“Germs on and in swimmers’ bodies end up in the water and can make other people sick,” Minnesota Department of Health epidemiologist Trisha Robinson said in a news release from the agency.
Last year, Minnesota had a record number of 11 waterborne outbreaks, and 10 of those were in treated waters. The 11 outbreaks across the state resulted in almost 200 documented illnesses, the health department said.
Among them was an outbreak of Cryptosporidium at Duluth’s Edgewater Resort and Water Park in March 2012. After that, owner ZMC Hotels spent $100,000 to install an ultraviolet water treatment system said to be 99.9 percent effective against Crypto.
But individuals have to do their part to protect themselves and others, the health department said:
Colored water in the pool? Nope
Speaking of pool hygiene, an industry trade group says the myth of the colored water isn’t true.
In a news release, the Water Quality and Health Council cited a recent Mason-Dixon survey in which 52 percent of respondents “believe there is a chemical that is added to pools to turn a conspicuous color in the presence of urine.”
The council claimed parents have “long used” this tale “to keep their children from peeing in the pool.”
There is no such chemical, the council said, although perhaps it would be a good thing if there were. The council cites its own previous survey in which one out of five adults admitted to having urinated in the water — and four out of five said they think other people do it.
Docs: Leave fireworks to pros
The primary organization of Minnesota doctors wants you to leave fireworks to the experts.
“Statistics show, year after year, that they are just so dangerous,” Dr. Dan Maddox, president of the Minnesota Medical Association, said in a news release. “Too many young people suffer eye and hand injuries from fireworks each summer. We feel the best way to celebrate Independence Day is to leave the fireworks to professionals.”
During the weeks before and after the Fourth of July, an average of 200 people go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission.
Brits roil Minnesotans on ‘mums-to-be’ drinking
A British study suggesting that moderate drinking during pregnancy might be OK drew a quick challenge from a Minnesota group.
The study was “misleading to pregnant women,” Sara Messelt, executive director of the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, said in a news release. “There is a 40-year history of research that definitely shows that prenatal alcohol exposure can cause brain abnormalities.”
She referred to a study led by John Macleod of Bristol University that was reported June 17 in the online edition of the Mail with the headline: “Mums-to-be ‘CAN have a glass of wine a day without harming their child’s development.’”
The evidence it cited: 10-year-old children of mothers who drank moderately during pregnancy proved to have better balance than 10-year-olds whose moms didn’t drink. The researchers said being able to balance is a sign of good brain development in the womb.
But Dr. Jeffrey Wozniak, co-director of the University of Minnesota’s Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Center, argued in the news release that research shows even a single alcoholic beverage can harm the fetus if the amount and timing are right.
“This one study that did not find a result may make an interesting headline, but it is ridiculous to ignore the hundreds of other studies that clearly show effects,” Wozniak said.
Macleod told the Mail that he plans to continue to tell women who wish to play it safe they shouldn’t drink at all during pregnancy, even though he thinks there’s no clear evidence of harm from moderate drinking.
How to live with chronic health ills
Adults with chronic health conditions, and people caring for them, are invited to a class that begins next month at Chris Jensen Health & Rehabilitation Center, 2501 Rice Lake Road.
The Living Well with Chronic Conditions workshop begins July 23 and continues each week for six weeks. The 2½-hour classes, led by trained volunteers with health conditions themselves, help participants set goals and make a step-by-step plan to improve their health, a news release from the center said.
Contact Laurie Bahr at (218) 625-6402 for more information or to register for the class. Class size is limited and registration is required.
Above average … but getting worse?
Minnesota children are still better off than kids in most other states, but an advocacy agency sees signs of concern in the latest data.
The state ranked fourth in the nation in the index of child well-being in the Annie E. Casey Foundation 2013 Kids Count Data Book, reports the Children’s Defense Fund of Minnesota. Minnesota has been in the top five for a decade, a news release from the group said.
The state ranked fifth last year.
But Children’s Defense Fund cited several worrisome trends, including:
Among encouraging signs were improvements in the number of eighth-graders proficient in math, fewer teens abusing alcohol and drugs and a decrease in teen birth rates.
Wisconsin ranked 12th overall, up from 15th last year.