Bacteria Busting: From Flip-Flops to First Grade


While stories of germs running rampant on your flip-flops may cause a scare, just-as-harmful (or even worse) microscopic bacteria and viruses could be flopping around your children’s classrooms as they head back to school this fall.

Flip-Flop Fracas

Scientists recently found that flip-flops worn for only four days picked up about 18,100 types of bacteria including Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as Staph, and E.Coli, according to the New York Daily News. 

But while wearing flip-flops may be a potentially-dangerous trend (more likely if you’re walking around in them with open cuts on your feet, it doesn’t mean those statistics are any different than for those wearing sandals or any kind of closed-toed shoes or that germs can’t be tracked into any place by anyone.

What Germs To Worry About

Staphylococcus bacteria are actually commonly found on the skin. In fact, it could be present in the noses of as much as 40% of normal adults, according to microbiology experts

But the worst kind of Staph, which traditional drugs can’t treat, is called MRSA, or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.  It can be found in nursing homes, hospitals and gyms, but it’s relatively rare, and needs to find a break in your skin to invade, then overcome the immune system.

E. coli bacteria from contaminated products and environments like water parks can be more serious.

But while Staph and E. coli may be fairly well-known bacteria, especially E. coli, given rampant recalls of food products contaminated with the bacteria, there are a few lesser-known but still serious diseases that can particularly affect kids.

Germs and the Classroom, Together Again

Hand, foot and mouth disease for instance, affects infants and children, starts off as a fever, poor appetite and sore throat and escalates to a skin rash and blister-like eruptions in the mouth. 

It’s contracted through direct contact with the infectious virus found in the nose and throat secretions, saliva, blister fluid and stool of infected people or virus-contaminated hands or surfaces

Bacterial meningitis also occurs in school-aged children. It starts with a high fever, headache and stiff neck, can include nausea, vomiting, discomfort looking into bright lights, confusion and sleepiness and seizures.

The bacteria can mainly be spread from person to person through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions through coughing, sneezing or kissing for example. 

Prevention Tips

Antimicrobial flip-flops, sandals or other shoes probably won’t eliminate your risk of being exposed to Staph bacteria, but if you’re seriously concerned about germs, here are a few basic tips to help you put your mind at ease, whether you’re a hypochondriac or not.

1. Protect Your Feet
If you’re worried about the bacteria on your shoes, avoid wearing flip-flops, or sandals for that matter.  Or you can just cover open cuts, avoid touching your feet and wash them when you get home.

2. Watch What You Eat
To avoid E. coli, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends against the consumption of raw or undercooked meat and unpasteurized milk.

3. Wash, Wash, Wash Your Hands
To prevent hand, foot and mouth disease, and many others including the common cold and flu stay vigilant about hygiene. Wash your hands frequently, clean dirty surfaces including toys and avoiding close contact with infected individuals. Bacterial meningitis can be prevented with a vaccine.

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