TORONTO - You might want to use an elbow to push the elevator button the next time you are in a hospital.
A new study suggests that elevator buttons in hospitals have more bacteria on them than surfaces in public bathrooms in hospitals.
Analysis of the swabs taken in the study found most of the bugs were benign. But that might not always be the case, said senior author Dr. Donald Redelmeier.
And where people — hopefully — wash their hands after going to the bathroom, they might not think to take the same precaution after doing something as simple as pushing a button to call an elevator and another to select a floor.
"The motivation here is they" — elevator buttons — "are ubiquitous inside hospitals, they're active really every moment of the day and they're touched by multiple people and it's almost always with ungloved hands," said Redelmeier, who is director of clinical epidemiology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.
"It's a theoretic risk. But the main point here is that it's also an avoidable risk through hand hygiene."
While elevator buttons are certainly among the surfaces hospital cleaners target, they are touched so often, by so many people, that it's a bit of a losing battle.
"They can't be cleaned again and again and again, every second of the day," Redelmeier said. "Once they're clean, they don't stay clean very long."
With the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria and outbreaks of C. difficile diarrhea, concern about infection control in hospitals has grown in recent years. As a result, numerous studies have been conducted to identify where bacteria hide in hospitals and how they are transmitted to patients.
Studies have found bacterial contamination on neckties worn by male doctors, lab coats, stethoscopes, curtains separating beds in multiple-bed rooms, computer keyboards as well as smart phones and digital tablets health-care workers use to enter and check patient data.
But equipment is generally in the hands of health-care workers. And hospital staff are regularly bombarded with messages about the need to observe good infection control practices such as washing hands between patients.
Hospital visitors and even patients themselves may have less of an idea that they could play a role in moving bacteria around hospitals, Redelmeier acknowledged.
For the study, swabs were taken from 120 different elevator buttons and 96 toilet surfaces in three different hospitals in Toronto. Swabbing was done on weekdays and weekends, and a variety of elevator buttons were tested. As well, the public washrooms closest to the elevators were also tested, with swabs taken of the door handles on the inside and outside of the main door, the latch used to close cubicle doors and the toilet flush handle or button.
Sixty-one per cent of the elevator buttons tested were colonized with bacteria, compared to 43 per cent of the toilet surfaces tested.
Redelmeier said people should consider using an elbow, a pen or some other item to push elevator buttons in hospitals, or make sure they use hand sanitizer after exiting an elevator. He and his co-authors suggested hospitals should put sanitizer dispensers in elevators.
When washing hands or using cleansing gel, people should remember to pay particular attention to fingertips — especially the forefinger of the dominant hand, he said.
"Often when people use a hand cleanser, they're very good at washing their palms, but not their fingertips. And yet most of the transmission does not occur in the middle of the hand, it occurs at the periphery of the hand."
The study was published in the journal Open Medicine.
KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 ― Do you think the homeless are lazy?
Some might be. The Malay Mail Online took to the city centre near the Kotaraya shopping complex and Segi College and spoke to several who have been making their beds on the five-foot-way and learnt that some have jobs, are articulate even, but are living on the streets for various reasons.
They came from all over the country hoping for a better life in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s glittering capital city.
Some ended up being taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers, or find it hard to work a typical nine-to-five job because of mental illness or physical ailments.
Others struggle with HIV, and a few say they prefer sleeping exposed to the elements in the companionship of friends as opposed to caged within four walls or alone in Australia.
One talks about feeding stray cats every day. A common thread of estranged family ties runs through their stories.
These are the tales of the homeless in Kuala Lumpur.
Roslan’s seven siblings kicked him out of the house in Malacca three years ago because he is HIV positive. He has been sleeping on the streets in Kuala Lumpur since and now makes his bed under a large tree near Kotaraya.
Though his mother said he could stay in their house, just seven days after she died, his youngest sister told the 52-year-old Malay man to leave.
“You sort yourself out,” Roslan remembers his sister telling him.
Roslan had moved back in with his mother when he got separated from his wife in 2005 after a 16-year marriage. Despite his HIV status, his wife had accepted him. Thankfully, neither his wife nor his two children have the virus.
But his wife could not take it when Roslan, who started injecting heroin at the age of 15, went back to drugs after being clean for six years during their marriage.
“I made a lot of mistakes. I don’t blame my ex-wife,” Roslan says, ruefully.
He gets angry, however, when he talks about his siblings.
“I have cut off ties with them. My siblings don’t want to accept me because I’m a drug addict,” he says.
But Roslan has been clean for four years since going on a methadone programme.
“I don’t even want to touch it anymore,” he says.
Sia Chin Siew
For Sia Chin Siew, home is now a pile of flattened cardboard boxes outside Bangkok Bank. For a pillow, she uses a bag. A white blanket completes her bed. She burns a mosquito coil at her feet to keep away the bugs.
The 58-year-old woman ran away from home two to three years ago after her husband refused to let their son marry the girl of his choice.
That wasn’t the first time Sia ran away.
It started when she was 18. Her father barred her from dating the man who eventually became her husband.
Sia returned home five years later, after which her father said she could marry whoever she wanted.
“I like freedom,” Sia says.
“I don’t want to rent a room. I can’t live within four walls because it’s very boring. It’s like being in a jail,” she adds.
She says she will consider returning home if her son gets married.
Yu Ching Hua
Yu Ching Hua, a 67-year-old man with a hoary beard, used to be a chef for 32 years and earned RM8,000 a month.
With his income, he managed to send his children overseas. His two daughters are now living in Switzerland, while his son resides in Australia.
In the 1990s, he stayed for six months in Australia. But he didn’t like it because he had no friends there.
“I felt like an idiot every day,” Yu says.
So he came back to Malaysia and now sleeps on the streets in Kuala Lumpur where he has “many friends”. His wife sleeps at her workplace, a childcare centre located in Petaling Jaya.
“I’m used to the outside,” Yu says.
Arinburagan sleeps in a field in Dataran Merdeka in the morning because he works as a car park attendant at night, and it’s too expensive to travel back to the shelter at a Hindu temple in Puchong.
The 61-year-old Indian man has a wife and two children in Ipoh, but declines to elaborate on whether his relationship with them is strained.
“I’ve been sleeping on the streets for three months,” says Arinburagan.
As we talk, a Sikh man passes by and gives Arinburagan a handful of coins. Arinburagan grins and thanks him.
Simon is from Sabah and sells recyclable cans for a living. He sleeps on the streets near the Maybank headquarters in the city centre. He says it is difficult to find work.
Then the 48-year-old man says he hears voices in his head. The voices have been around since he was 14.
“The voices are flying around. They say they don’t like me,” he says.
Simon’s stories are a jumble. He says he once won a Perodua car. And then he relates how his family was kidnapped. He remembers his mother used to collect gold.
Before Ah Fatt talks to me and my colleague Choo Choy May, he feeds an orange tabby leftovers from his Nando’s chicken meal.
A group of people wearing Nando’s T-shirts had passed by the noisy construction area near Bangkok Bank in the city centre, where he sleeps, and had given him chicken, rice and mineral water.
“Every day, I go to KFC and get bones for the six stray cats here,” Ah Fatt says, as he calls out “miaow, miaow” to the orange tabby.
The Chinese bachelor in his 60s has six siblings. He says he doesn’t want to live with them because he feels he would be imposing on them since he’s jobless.
“I don’t want many things; I’m happy with even just one drumstick. So I don’t need to work,” he says.
“There’s so much food here. Six packets of food will arrive at my doorstep every Saturday,” Ah Fatt adds
Nasar stopped working as a security guard 10 years ago because his employer didn’t pay him for three months.
Since then, the 33-year-old Malay man has resorted to begging at the Mydin hypermarket in the city centre, which earns him a tidy amount of RM50 a day. He does it by putting a plastic cup on the floor and holds out his hands.
“I’m forced to beg. Of course I don’t like living like this,” he says, lighting up a cigarette.
Nasar has been sleeping in the same spot under a large tree near Kotaraya for a decade.
S. Sathiumnarainah does odd jobs like fixing cables, but his employer recently stopped paying him.
The 44-year-old man says he prefers to sleep on the streets near Maybank in the city centre rather than stay in his sister’s house because he has friends here. If his friend Mani is not here, then he will go to his sister’s.
Sathiumnarainah talks a lot about his friend Mani.
“Mani likes to drink toddy. He got into a fight. But I don’t drink,” he says.
Beroner Bill works as a security guard and has hostel accommodation, but the 27-year-old Sarawakian prefers to sleep on the streets near Kotaraya because he has many friends here.
The young man, who earns between RM1,000 and RM1,400 monthly, speaks very softly. I have to lean in to hear him.
“I like staying in KL. I like watching people around me,” he says, with a pensive look on his face.
In the area under a large tree where he sleeps, several other people are lying on benches. A baby drinks from a milk bottle as it lies on a rug on the floor.
A shirtless white man works on a crossword puzzle in the dark, his head bent over in concentration. The street lamps are out.
When the FBI is not tracking down federal criminals, tapping phones or secretly hunting aliens, they're compiling an extensive list of how to interpret "leetspeak", or rather, internet slang abbreviations that are usually used on Twitter.
Jason Mathers made a request under the Freedom of Information Act, asking the FBI to disclose all documents that show how the agency defines leetspeak, citing public interest as the slang is commonly used by hackers, and could be useful to computer crimes investigators.
Although the 83-page document is entitled "Twitter shorthand", the FBI's Intelligence Research Support Unit (IRSU), which compiled the 3,000-term glossary, says that it is also to be used as a guide for social media.
The manual states: "With the advent of Twitter and other social media venues, the use of shorthand and acronyms has exploded. [IRSU] has put together an extensive—but far from exhaustive—list of shorthand and acronyms used on Twitter and other social media venues such as instant messages, Facebook, and MySpace."
However, if you were hoping the glossary refers to terms of a clandestine nature, you're going to be disappointed.
The list contains some rather odd acronyms, including common ones like LOL (laugh out loud), BRB (be right back) and YOLO (you only live once), as well as terms like AMOG (alpha male of the group), AWHFY (Are we having fun yet?), BFUT (best friends until tomorrow) or CMAR (cry me a river).
"This list has about 2,800 entries you should find useful in your work or for keeping up with your children and/or grandchildren," the IRSU suggests in the document.
Here are some of the funniest and weirdest terms we've seen on the FBI's list – bet you didn't know some of these:
NIFOC – Naked in front of computer
SHCOON – Shoot hot coffee out of nose
SKI – Spend kids' inheritance
BTDTGTTAWIO – Been there, done that, got the t-shirt and wore it out
J CAT – Category J – mentally unstable person
NFN – Normal for Norfolk (originally a derogatory term used by medical doctors in Norfolk and Norwich hospital in UK for intellectually challenged patients. Now may also mean something more endearing-like quaint)
ICBINB – I can't believe it's not butter
GNSTDLTBBB – Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite
GIYF – Google is your friend
MAP – Man-alien-predator
LOTR – Lord of the Rings
ITTET – In these tough economic times
Edmonton’s fierce rental boom is making it difficult for some people to afford suitable housing.
New statistics show Edmonton and Calgary have the lowest rental vacancy rates – and some of the highest rent increases – in Canada.
In Edmonton, that means the cost of a monthly rent is rising faster than inflation, leading to a highly competitive rental market, particularly when it comes to two-bedroom apartments.
Kristen Grenier said it took her four months to find a two-bedroom apartment she and her partner could afford for their family of four.
The Highlands apartment, which has bed bugs and a leaky bathroom ceiling, costs them $975 every month.
"My son's waking up in the middle of the night, ‘mom, I'm itchy, mom, my toes.’"
Now, Grenier said she wants to move, but has not been able to find anything else suitable in her price range.
"Everything goes fast. Everyone has a waiting list," she said of her house hunt.
“[It] makes us feel pretty, pretty low, right? Like we're not worth living in a bigger place or a better place. Like our family is, this is what we're worth, that's it. It's really hard.”
The Grenier family said they have applied for subsidized housing, but were told it could take up to three years before any aid comes through.
"It's a recipe for housing disaster,” acknowledged Mayor Don Iveson, who is now urging the federal government to step in.
This photo taken June 5, 2014 shows diagrams in a room where the Drake bug collection is held at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington. When Dr. Carl J. Drake died in 1965 he left the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History $250,000 and his collection of thousands of bugs. Drake, an entomologist, spent his life studying insects, and he gave the Smithsonian a mission for his money: buy more bugs. After nearly half a century, however, the Smithsonian is having a hard time following the directives of Drake’s will. (AP Photo/Connor Radnovich)
Ticks seek out a host by hanging on to a blade of grass with their rear legs and holding their front …
Truvia, as a plant-based artificial sweetener, is toxic to fruit flies, a fact we now know thanks to the scientific work a sixth grader.
Despite this seeming grim finding, the researchers have a rather cheery approach to the whole thing, writing in their abstract that erythritol could be used as an environmentally friendly insecticide:
Many pesticides in current use are synthetic molecules such as organochlorine and organophosphate compounds. Some synthetic insecticides suffer drawbacks including high production costs, concern over environmental sustainability, harmful effects on human health, targeting non-intended insect species, and the evolution of resistance among insect populations. Thus, there is a large worldwide need and demand for environmentally safe and effective insecticides. Here we show that Erythritol, a non-nutritive sugar alcohol, was toxic to the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster... Our results demonstrate, for the first time, that erythritol may be used as a novel, environmentally sustainable and human safe approach for insect pest control.
The idea for the study, reports CBS News, came from a project done by the lead researcher's grade-school-age son. "I would have never studied it first without the initial inquisitiveness of a sixth grader," said Daniel R. Marenda, explaining that his son Simon decided to test the health benefits of Truvia when his parents decided to switch from sugar to artificial sweeteners three years ago:
Simon and his father went to the supermarket and bought every kind of sweetener they could find on the shelves. Then they went to Marenda's lab and prepared food for the flies that included different kinds of sweeteners. They put the flies in vials and fed them with the prepared food. After six days, Simon discovered that all the flies fed with Truvia were dead.
Simon, now in ninth grade, should definitely feel like he has some bragging rights. The paper's senior author, Sean O'Donnell, said of the study, “I feel like this is the simplest, most straightforward work I’ve ever done, but it’s potentially the most important thing I’ve ever worked on."
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Next, the scientists plan to see which other insects — like termites, cockroaches, bed bugs and ants — they can kill with erythritol. If Simon's idea leads to a bed bug solution, we'll nominate him for a Nobel Prize.
This article was originally published at http://www.thewire.com/national/2014/06/truvia-natural-sweetener-is-a-natural-way-to-kill-fruit-flies/372206/
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- artificial sweeteners
Khamjuan Namwichai, center, greets reporters at a news conference in Honolulu on Tuesday, June 3, 2013. Namwichai spoke in Thai to describe unsanitary conditions working at Hawaii farms, as Mimi Cheou, an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigator, left, translates. Also pictured are Anna Park, EEOC Los Angeles regional attorney, second from left, and Thai worker Likhit Yoo-on. The U.S. EEOC announced details of settlements totaling $2.4 million by four farms the agency sued for discriminating against hundreds of Thai workers. (AP Photo/Jennifer Sinco Kelleher)
Some residents of an Ottawa Community Housing apartment building on Russell Road say they're fed up with ongoing pest control treatments that don't seem to be working.
Pierrette Whisselle has been living in an apartment at 2080 Russell Rd., near St. Laurent Boulevard, for four years, and that the cockroaches showed up not long after she moved in.
"Six months in to being here the cockroaches showed up and I've been dealing with exterminators every two weeks," Whisselle says. "... They [the exterminators] never fail. It's constant. They come in, they'll make me empty out my whole kitchen first, they'll gel, they'll put a white powder behind the fridge and the stove, they'll even spray if they have to."
She says the exterminators spend about five minutes dealing with the issue during each visit. She says she likes everything else about her apartment, but not the bugs.
"That's why I asked for a transfer, and hopefully that'll work. But for now, this is the only place I can afford, and I stick around and deal with it one day at a time," Whisselle says. "I already had to deal with bed bugs at one point, and now we're dealing with cockroaches, so it's always something here. It never stops."
Trevor Young has lived in the same building for about six years, and that the cockroaches showed up two years ago. He says exterminators show up to treat his apartment about twice per month.
"There's still so many at nighttime that I can't get rid of them all," Young says. "It's very embarrassing when I have guests over to my apartment. ... If I take a cup or something form the cupboard, sometimes I'll have cockroach droppings on my dishes.
"I can't get rid of them. ... I'm tired of this."
Ottawa Community Housing's pest control budget has grown from $210,000 in 2007 to $875,000 in 2013. OCH president Stephane Giguere says that's due, in part, to prevention and education costs as well as treatment costs.
He says some units at the Russell Road building have undergone as many as 12 treatments, and that the complexity of insect travel patterns, finding nests and other factors are to blame.
"Pest control is a really important issue and challenge that we take seriously here at Ottawa Community Housing," Giguere says.
One of the most anticipated video games of the year, Watch Dogs was released on Tuesday. The user gets to play the hero, Aidan Pearce, who has access to one of the most unusual weapons in the video game sphere: hacking. While it officially came out today, some players got their hands on early copies and immediately began looking for easter eggs hidden in the massive open-world of the game.
One of the first Easter Eggs came from avid gamer Mr Murdoc, who runs a YouTube channel dedicated to the craft. It pokes fun at another Ubisoft (the company behind Watch Dogs) game, Assassin's Creed.
In Watch Dogs, Aiden can view a video of a father and son playing Assassin's Creed. They're talking while they play:
Father: "Why is he doing that?" Son: "He's an assassin, Dad." Father: "Well, I mean...why is he talking to that guy he just killed?" Son: "It's a confession." Father: "Well that, that's just dumb." Son: "Dad, please. you're ruining it."
The conversation is a mocking of the words typically exchanged between the Assassin and his victims in Assassin's Creed. Gaming Blend reporter Peter Haas says the Easter Egg has a "fair point. After you've assassinated someone, it's a little strange to treat them like a kid you just tucked into bed." We would agree with Haas; it is a weird move in Assassin's Creed and therefore the perfect kind of feature that bugs developers and gamers alike enough to build an easter egg around it.
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Both games were developed in the same office, Ubisoft Montreal, so this is a friendly sibling rivalry. The games share a few other similarities. Reddit users found that some of the people Aiden encounters used to work for a company called Abstergo. Abstergo is also featured in Assassin's Creed:
With the full release of the game coming today, we can expect to see way more easter eggs coming out. We're hoping to see more overlap between Assassin's Creed and Watch Dogs unearthed, but if not, we'll settle for some more joking between the developers of both games.
This article was originally published at http://www.thewire.com/technology/2014/05/watch-dogs-easter-egg-pokes-fun-at-assassins-creed/371633/
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