In the spring of 1997, I had a wonderful day with Dr. Omar Amin in Phoenix, Arizona. Dr. Amin is one of the world’s most respected and sought-after parasitologists and heads the Parasitology Center Inc in Scottsdale, Arizona.
He gave me a copy of his article ‘Understanding Parasites’ in which there was a phrase that has always stuck with me: “A recent inspection of an expensive restaurant in Los Angeles showed that 100% of all employees (not just the waiters) had fecal matter under their nails. “
Fecal matter and disease (particularly parasites) generally go together. With our cities offering cuisine from increasingly exotic regions of the world, this leads to a higher incidence of parasite-borne diseases, especially if these regional foods are undercooked or even raw: Dutch herring, steak tartare, ceviche, sashimi, sushi, for instance. The tapeworm ranks high on the “resident” list in these foods, as does the Anisakid worm.
A food handler with poor personal hygiene is likely to increase the exposure and risk of spreading pathogens. Years ago, kitchen staff wore gloves and hairnets when handling food. It seems they don’t do this anymore, although nowadays it may be mandatory to wash your hands regularly.
Gondar University, Ethiopia
In 2003, 127 food handlers working in the cafeterias of Gondar University and the Teacher Training School underwent nail tests. These coffees were selected because the massive food supply is a likely source of infection transmission. The content of fingernails and stool samples were collected from the 127 food handlers. In addition to the fecal matter under the nails, the following were found:
– Coagulase negative staphylococci (41.7%) of Staphylococcus aureus (16.5%), Klebisella species (5.5%), Escherichia coli (3.1%), Serratia species (1.58%), Citrobacter (0.8%) and Enterobacter species (0.8%). %).
– Shigella species were isolated from stool samples of four food handlers (3.1%). None of the food handlers tested positive for Salmonella and Shigella species with respect to their nail content.
Fortunately, no intestinal parasites were detected in the content of your nails, but intestinal parasites were detected in your stool:
– Ascaris lumbricoides (18.11%), Strongyloides stercoralis (5.5%) Entamoeba histolytica / dispar (1.6%), Trichuris trichiura (1.6%), hookworm species (0.8%), Gardia lamblia (0.8%) and Schistosoma mansoni (0.8%)); 1.6% of the study subjects were positive for A. lumbricoides, T. trichiura, hookworms, and Giardia lamblia.
From this and many other studies it is clear that food handlers are a potential source of infections. However, they are not just food handlers. To give you an idea of where and how contamination occurs, here are a couple of lists.
Top 10 ‘dirtiest’ jobs:
1. Nursery teacher / assistant
2. Cashier (bank, post office, supermarket, fast food, etc.)
4. Animal control officer
5. Janitor, plumber
6. Computer repair (using a dirty keyboard / mouse)
7. Doctor or nurse
8. Laboratory scientist
9. Garbage collector
10. Meat packer
These are some of the dirtiest places you’ll ever touch:
1. Supermarket trolley handle
2. Office keyboard and mouse (not yours)
3. The button of a public or office drinking fountain
4. Door handles: toilet, refrigerator and microwave in the office and home.
5. Vending machine buttons
6. The kitchen sink at home
7. Your toothbrush, if you leave it near a flushing toilet (always close the toilet lid!) And the toothbrush holder
8. TV remote control (hotels and home)
9. Anywhere around household pets (including litter boxes)
10. Escalator handrails
11. Buttons for ATMs, elevators, video game controllers.
12. Fuel pumps
13. Car steering wheels, especially with multiple drivers
Next time you’re out for a drink, think before you dip your fingers into the peanut bowl on the bar. Along with the nuts there will be fecal matter and urine residues. Then of course there’s that lemon wedge in your drink:
“I worked in restaurants for years and this is what I saw. The lemons and limes were delivered and put in the cooler. When the waiter needs a hand full of them, he grabs them by putting them on his apron. Then he would cut them on a board. cutting and putting them in cups and placing them on the bar Customer # 1 orders a beer and pays for the beer The bartender puts cash in the register Customer # 2 orders a vodka and soda with a lemon. The waiter reaches into the ice bin and fills the cup, takes a lemon and squeezes the lemon into the drink. At no time does the water touch the fruit or your hands and this continues all day. Money, ice and fruit. Oh, and the occasional trip to the bathroom. “
Men generally have more germs under their nails than women, but there are more germs under artificial nails than under real ones.
Of course there is hope …
Viruses and bacteria are an integral part of our lives. There are billions of them in and around us. A strong and healthy immune system will generally take care of most of the daily threats we pick up from that dirty grocery cart or household pet, but being aware of this is valuable too.
Some facts about nails:
– Onychopathy is the study of the nails of the hands and feet.
– Nails are essentially dead cells that are made of a protein called keratin, the same as our hair. We’d get along fine without them, but they’re great at helping us do tricky things like getting a better grip, texting, and scratching ourselves. They also absorb some of the stress that would otherwise have to be borne by the tips of the finger bones.
– Nails grow faster when you are young, faster in your more active hand and more in summer than in winter. They also grow faster in pregnant women.
– Dry nails? Just drink more water.
We have a final note of health …
Try not to drink directly from aluminum cans. If you buy canned drinks and take them home, wash the lids, as they can carry a virus called leptospirosis.
There is a lot of scaremongering on the internet about people dying from drinking from unwashed cans. I’m not sure the accuracy of that, but if there is any truth here, it would be because the victim had such a weakened immune system that it offered little or no resistance to invading bacteria.
Tests have shown that some aluminum cans contain dried rat urine containing Leptospira i. The cans are usually stored in rat infested warehouses and delivered straight to retail stores without cleaning! Just so you know.
Let’s keep exposure to a minimum.