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The Klebsiella Are Coming! The Klebsiella Are Coming!

August 31, 1995|CHARLES PERRY

Just possibly, you may have noticed that damp kitchen sponges and dish rags can breed amazing smells. By nature, they pick up microscopic bits of food on their fibers. Unless regularly, scrupulously cleaned, they're a bacterial paradise.

Odor is not the only problem. Dr. Charles Gerba, an environmental microbiologist from the University of Arizona, tested 100 sponges and dish rags collected from Los Angeles kitchens and found that 20% carried staphylococcus and/or salmonella bacteria, the two leading causes of food-borne illness. And 56% of the samples harbored "opportunistic" bacteria like Alcaligenes xylosoxydans and Klebsiella pneumoniae, which can cause illness in people with low resistance, including the very young, the very old, pregnant women and people with weak immune systems.

Judging from the coliform bacteria in water wrung from them, dishrags are about 14 times dirtier than regular sponges and 260 times dirtier than germ-resistant sponges. So you should probably, you know, be careful to wash them.

The Noses of Scotland

The U.C. Berkeley Wellness Letter reports a Scottish study suggesting that people who drink alcohol daily are 25% to 50% more likely to have nosebleeds than those who drink only occasionally or not at all. The suspected reason: Alcohol may keep platelets in the blood from binding together to stop bleeding.

Yeah, maybe. But we aren't going to accept that interpretation until we know how many people in the study were soccer fans. Soccer fandom is stressful , it is.

An Insoluble Wine-Food Pairing Problem

Inky cap mushrooms, often found in lawns and parks after rainfall, contain a poison called coprine, which doesn't cause its symptoms (rapid pulse, nausea) until you drink alcohol. This explains the mushroom's other name, tippler's bane.

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