Friday, August 29, 2014

An Olfactory Highway of Death

Tiny amoebas swimming in your brain and eating brain cells! Something out of a science fiction or horror movie? Not at all. It's very real!

The amoeba has been around for decades and rarely infects anyone. But every now and then it decides to rear its ugly head and wreak havoc on humans. Now, in Louisiana, there is another outbreak of this amoeba in swimming holes, lakes and elsewhere. I've pasted the article below so you can get the full story.

The announcement early Thursday that a rare but potentially deadly brain-destroying amoeba was found in a parish water supply in Louisiana has put a community on edge and stoked fears straight out of zombie fiction.
The microscopic menace, Naegleria fowleri, craves warm freshwater and thrives in hot springs, swimming holes, lakes and even neti pots used to flush out sinuses. Officials say drinking water that it's in is safe, but if it slips into your nostrils, it could crawl up holes in the base of your skull and wage an all-out assault on your frontal lobe.

"If it gets in your brain, then you're hosed," said Dr. Clayton Wiley, director of the division of neuropathology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Fortunately, medical professionals and disease experts say infections with this bug are exceedingly rare: It's been reported in just 132 people in the U.S. since 1962. And yet cases are nearly always fatal: Only three of those people survived.
Accordingly, officials in Louisiana are sounding the alarm about the tiny terrors swimming in a water system that serves 12,577 people.
Here's what we know about the amoeba:

Why is amoeba-tainted water safe to drink?

It’s probably not a great idea to sip on a Naegleria cocktail, but if you unwittingly do, don't fret: The acid in your stomach kills it, according to CDC spokeswoman Christine Pearson. But if tainted water gets up your nose, the amoeba can latch on to nasal mucosa and creep up the olfactory nerve, which carries smell signals to the brain.
"They can literally travel up these nerve cells like they're on a highway and get into the brain," said Dr. Nicole Iovine, an infectious disease doctor and director of Antimicrobial Management Program at the University of Florida. "That's really where they do the most significant damage."

Does the amoeba really 'eat' your brain?

The organism — roughly 10 micrometers in diameter — slinks up the olfactory nerve to the brain before reproducing exponentially. By the time the immune system reacts, the bug has already built up its defense against white blood cells.
"If you had it live under a microscope, you can watch it wander around and absolutely destroy cells," said Dr. Wiley. "It's extremely aggressive. It ravages brain tissue, and that's why it's earned the very graphic name 'brain-eating.' It's just a bad situation all around."
The infection caused by N. fowleri is called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis — PAM for short. It’s a severe inflammation of the brain — and there’s not an easy treatment. The early symptoms resemble a cold or flu, so diagnosis doesn't come quickly. And all the while, the amoeba feasts on brain cells.
“PAM is difficult to detect because the disease progresses rapidly so that diagnosis is usually made after death,” according to the CDC.

Who is most susceptible to infection — or worse?

If you've sustained a face injury — especially a fracture to your nasal passage — you're more likely to be vulnerable to infection, according to Iovine.
"If the bones that are supposed to separate the nasal cavity from the brain are broken or cracked, your face is essentially a wide-open gate" to the amoeba, Iovine said.
And while it's not entirely clear if children are more susceptible to Naegleria than adults, the statistics are stark: 84 percent of the 132 infections documented in the U.S. between 1962 and 2013 occurred in children under age 18, according to data from the CDC.
"The simple fact is that kids, especially little boys, are going to come into contact with the organism because of where they play and how they play," Iovine said. "They're going to be excited about dumping their heads in muddy, brackish water, where the amoeba thrives."

What can you do to protect yourself?

If you choose to take a dip in warm freshwater, the CDC recommends holding your nose shut, using nose clips, and keeping your head above water so you don't end up ingesting the gnarly bug.

But it's probably safest to stay out of the lakes and rivers brimming with amoebae, anyway. "I'm not a fear-mongerer," Wiley said, "but I tell you this: I wouldn't go swimming in the water after you've found something like that."

Image: Naegleria fowleri
A wet mount of Naegleria fowleri trophozoites cultured from the CSF of a patient with primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) viewed using phase contrast microscopy.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

From Rags to Pitches

Should I use rags, whether color-coded for specific areas or not, or should I use disposable wipes that I can just pitch in the garbage when I'm done?

This question is examined in the article in the current August issue of entitled Toss Away the Germs. Cross-contamination, better health, avoiding staph infections and other concerns are all pondered in this article. What are you using when you clean?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Ebola Games

No, this is not some sick, twisted adventure on a deadly and devastating disease.  It is scientists using the minds of video gamers to try and find a cure for Ebola.  Scientists at the University of Washington are using these unusual thinking methods of gaming individuals to study ways to prevent or cure Ebola.  This article goes into more detail on how this is being done and the studies involved.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Custodial World App for Android Devices

Are you looking to have quick access to Custodial World information via Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and more? Download this app to your Android smartphone and all the links via icons will be at your fingertips!

Or scan this QR code for quick access. 

Custodial World App

Friday, August 8, 2014

Bodies Dumped. PPE Scattered. Ebola Rages

Ebola continues to rage in western Africa and communities are frightened and fighting to stop government officials from dumping or burying dead bodies in their towns. The Ebola virus is spreading and is now considered an international public health threat by WHO. Two articles below highlight this situation. This outbreak has killed almost 1,000 people and doesn't appear to be stopping. As more attention is given to this situation, authorities continue to battle this deadly outbreak.


World Health Organization (WHO)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Green Products Versus Non-Green Products

Our last poll asked how well green products worked. Although green products are great for the environment, and many do work very well, not all do the same job as the current chemicals in use.

Using green products is the ultimate goal of all custodians, janitors and cleaning companies as well as products for home use. Sometimes though, the green products just don't "cut it" when it comes to cleaning. Individuals need to compare for themselves what products will or won't work. Will more time be needed to do the job with a green product versus the old one? Will it cost more? Does it save in time, energy and money in the long run?

As time goes on, green products will become more efficient and will work better. In the meantime, compare them for yourself to decide what you will use when cleaning.


Ebola has made headlines in the last few months as this deadly disease continues to kill most of those it infects. A couple of patients have been transported to a hospital in Atlanta, GA where they are being quarantined and treated. (Read on here to find out what Ebola is, what the symptoms are and how to avoid contracting it.)

Ebola has been around for years and every so often it flares up and wipes out scores of people. Then it dies down and is out of the news for awhile. Now it has reared its ugly head again and has killed hundreds. This link will take you to several news stories covering the Ebola outbreak over the past several months.

In 1994 Richard Preston wrote a book based on true accounts of the Ebola virus. It is very interesting, but be warned that some details are quite gruesome. The book is called The Hot Zone. 

With this new outbreak, it is hoped that this disease will not become a pandemic by racing around the world wiping out millions. Time will tell. In the meantime, keep up on the news to see what steps are being made in containing this disease.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

This Custodian Is A Doll - Or At Least His Creations Are

Trash is trash. Or is it? Not according to James Gallien who works for a university in Louisiana. He takes things that others throw away and recycles them into works of art. Doll art that is. This article goes into more detail, but it shows what can be done with what many consider to be garbage. What a great way to recycle and reuse!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Don't Poo Poo This Museum

As a custodian, I've cleaned up my fair share of feces.  It's not pleasant, especially when it belongs to someone or something else.  But the study of feces, where it goes, how plumbing carries it away to be processed and more is interesting. Now a museum in Japan has picked up on this sticky situation and has logged information at their exhibit.  And when you visit, you even get to wear a poo hat and ride a toilet slide!  I'd like to visit this museum.  Would you? Could you?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Interesting Mix of Social Media Use

Our last poll asked which social media networks were used to find information about cleaning. Facebook and Instagram had the most votes followed by Twitter and others. Some voters said they did not use any media to search for this information. In this world of technology and instant access to information, it's quite interesting to see what people are using in their lives to find the things they need.

Custodian Death a Reminder to All

Whether or not chemicals were the cause of a custodians death in a Boston elementary school, the warnings about chemical use is still of high importance. Always use ventilation when using strong chemicals. Avoid using chemicals that are unnecessary or extremely volatile or that off gas strong odors. Always read warning labels and use according to the manufacturers instructions. Wear PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) when necessary. Be safe!

Boston Custodian

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Work Never Ends

I've posted articles in the past about custodians across the country that have been highlighted for their work they perform every day, year round. Many teachers, administrators, parents and students think that the custodians get the summer off like everyone else. Unknown to most of them, the summertime is usually the busiest time of the year for custodians as they clean everything from top to bottom and perform other maintenance related tasks as well.

This article from Georgia confirms this fact and shows that this group of people are the backbone of a clean and maintained building.