What Lurks Beneath: 3 Germs Currently Invading Your Kitchen
Our kitchens are an oasis of gastronomic possibilities, witnessing many of our trials, arguments, quiet breakdowns, pondering and failed experiments. They store memories of our lives in their cupboards and drawers, providing a sounding board for our first dessert triumphs or the completion of a 15 minute meal (though it beats me how anyone but Mr Oliver can cook those dishes so quickly), though for all of that, the humble kitchen is still subject to a host of harmful germs. As humanity develops antidotes and disinfectants for absolutely everything, it’s still best to wipe down your bench tops, wash the dishes and dispose of garbage, lest you create a plundering ground for these three bacteria surprises.
You may have heard of E.Coli (or as its mother calls it, eschericha coli), it’s a usually beneficial bacteria alive and kicking butt in the gut of many a mammal, including humans, preventing pathogens from infecting your intestine and assisting in the factory production of Vitamine K2. It sounds like a friendly, happy fellow, no? Ordinarily, you have nothing to fear from the e. coli family, though every unit has a black sheep and the strain O157:H7 (we know him as food poisoning) can have a butt kicking effect on anybody who is unlucky enough to ingest him. There are a few less common distance cousins to worry about, but we’ll focus on the H7 strain for now. Adults and older teenagers can usually shake off the effects of food poisoning completely in five to seven days, by drinking lots of water, eating unobtrusive meals and sleeping a lot; kids and the elderly are a different story, their immune systems are a bit weaker, so keep a close eye on them.
Almost everybody has enjoyed a run-in with the Salmonella strain at least once in their lives; associated with food poisoning (seems to be popular with the pathogenic crowd), salmonella attacks the elderly, young adults, children, adults, everyone really, though the extremity of its symptoms often relies on your current health status. After one recovers from the physical fun that isn’t salmonella (fatigue, vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration, cramps, fever and headache), the bacteria can still hang around for a matter of weeks in human waste, so rigorous hand-washing after using the toilet is a must. So how does one get salmonella? Chowing down on uncooked eggs, eating raw or badly cooked poultry, dishing out cross contaminated food, petting infected animals or touching hands with someone who doesn’t believe in post-bathroom washing. Salmonella can hang out anywhere really, from your counter tops and utensils, to deep within your dish washer; run the water giant through an empty cycle and clear out any unfriendliness before loading it up again.
Considered one of the more serious pathogenic bacteria, listeria causes a bit of hysteria on the hospital floor, due to its invasive nature and truly debilitating effects. Also known as Listeria Monocytogenes, the infection is potentially very harmful, especially to pregnant mothers who run the chance of passing the illness onto their babies in-vitro. Though infection is rare next to e.coli and salmonella, listeria is everywhere in the world, surviving in harsh environments; by chance contamination of food stuffs are humans usually infected. Symptoms don’t pop up straight away, biding their time over a period of time, occasionally only appearing after a couple of months of hibernation; when it does hit, you’ll wish it hadn’t. It’s a hammer throw of fever, child, headaches, stiffness, light sensitivity, confusion, drowsiness, aches and pains, nausea and diarrhoea, and once infected, you’ll have to stay in hospital for a while to get rid of it, hooked up to an IV.
Have I inspired your to give your kitchen a good going over with a bottle of disinfectant and a fresh cloth? Good. Don’t forget to clean out your helpful devices too, that’s a rule that can be followed in all of your rooms from your Kitchens’ dishwasher to your laundries’ washing machine and make sure your fridge is the coldest it can be without freezing its contents.