Summer Superbugs: What You Can Do To Protect Yourself
Bacteria are present everywhere – in our food, soil, and even our bodies. Some bacteria are beneficial, such as those that are normal inhabitants of our bodies, also known as our microflora, and others are harmful and can cause infection and disease. Certain bacterial infections tend to spike during the summer months, namely food borne illness and urinary tract infections. And what is really scary is that some of these bacteria are becoming antibiotic resistant – they are superbugs. That means that your doctor can't take care of them with a simple prescription.
Here is what you need to know about these summer superbugs:
Food Borne Bacteria
Food borne illnesses or “food poisoning” escalate in the summer due to warmer weather. Each year million of people contract a food borne illness and sadly, these infections can be fatal.
Bacteria like Salmonella enteritidis, Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli, Clostridium botulinum, and Campylobacter are present throughout the environment in soil, air, water, and in the bodies of people and animals. These microorganisms grow faster in the warm summer months. Most food borne bacteria grow fastest at temperatures above 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees farenheit).
Bacteria also need moisture to flourish, and summer weather is often hot and humid.
Prevent food poisoning by:
washing your hands before food preparation;
carrying sanitizing hand wipes with you when hiking or picnicking;
storing food in coolers with ice packs;
and when in doubt, toss it out.
Be proactive by taking a daily probiotic supplement to keep your gut healthy and in a better position to fight off infections.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a common type of infection caused by bacteria (most often E. coli) that travel up the urethra into the bladder. They are the second most common bacterial infections that women get.
If left untreated, (or if they cannot be treated due to antibiotic resistance), UTIs can lead to the infection of the kidneys or worse.
The short version is this: Up to 8 million urinary-tract infections occur in the United States each year, and each year, a growing and significant proportion—hard to measure, but probably at least 10 percent, or 800,000—are antibiotic-resistant. -- Maryn McKenna, National Geographic
A new study finds that severe UTIs peak in the summertime especially among young women (ages 18-40) due to dehydration, an increase in sexual activity and humidity that can trap moisture. Antibiotics are often prescribed for UTIs, but are not a long-term solution and frequently rank as one of the top reasons we have a growing superbug problem.
Prevent UTIs by:
drinking lots of water;
voiding urine regularly and completely;
avoiding wearing wet bathing suits or damp gym clothes for longer than necessary;
and taking a concentrated cranberry supplement daily.
The clinically studied form of cranberry called Cran-Max has been proven to reduce the risk of bladder infections. It works by changing the structure of bacteria so that it can’t adhere to the bladder wall and cause infection. Research has found Cran-Max to be just as effective as antibiotics for prevention without causing unpleasant side effects or risk of bacterial resistance.