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Dirtier than the toilet? These 5 items are among the filthiest in your home

Published: Friday, March 24, 2017 @ 2:14 PM

Water swirls in a flushing toilet.
Christof Koepsel/Getty Images
Water swirls in a flushing toilet.(Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)

If you take your smartphone to the restroom with you, you might want to rethink that habit. 

A 2011 study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found fecal matter on 1 out of every 6 smartphones. University of Arizona microbiologist Charles Gerba went even further with his research, which found that cellphones carry 10 times the bacteria of most toilet seats.

Part of the reason is that toilets get cleaned more frequently, Gerba said. People associate the bathroom with germs. Cellphones are often overlooked.

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Here are five common items that are often left out of the cleaning routine:

A man uses a remote control.(Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

Electronic devices

Cellphones are not the only electronic devices named as the dirtiest items in the home. Remote controls for televisions, DVD players and streaming devices are also overlooked during most cleanings. 

Tablet devices like the iPad are also culprits, USA Today reported. If multiple people use the devices, it spreads the germs and the subsequent illness. 

To clean: Electronic device surfaces can be wiped clean with disinfectant. 

In this Jan. 31, 2011, photo, Gina Nikichiw-Spell feels cold water flowing out of the kitchen tap at Mayor Wright Housing in Honolulu.(AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

Kitchen sink

A home’s kitchen sink carries more bacteria than both the toilet and the garbage can, Gerba’s research found. 

“There’s more fecal bacteria in a sink than there is in a flushed toilet,” Gerba told “Today.” “That’s why dogs drink out of the toilet. They know better than to drink out of the kitchen sink,” he joked. 

Even worse is a kitchen sponge, which Gerba found carries up to 200,000 times more bacteria than a toilet. 

To clean: Gerba said kitchen sinks should be washed daily with hot, soapy water, particularly after contact with raw meat or poultry. Used sponges should be wet and popped into the microwave for a minute to sanitize them. 

Children's swings are empty at a New Zealand playground.(Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

Playground equipment

Those colorful playground sets that children love so much have proven to be magnets for bacteria. 

“I won’t let my grandchildren go into playgrounds, though some of them do have hand sanitizing stations these days,” Gerba told “Good Housekeeping.” “Playgrounds are essentially public toilets for birds.”

To clean: If you allow your children to play on public playgrounds, bring plenty of hand sanitizer, Gerba said. 

Reusable grocery bags are shown at a Whole Foods Market, which banned the use of disposable plastic grocery bags in its 270 stores in the U.S., Canada and UK in 2008.(David McNew/Getty Images)

Reusable shopping bags

Reusable shopping bags are a great way to help the environment, but they can harbor health threats, including E. coli bacteria, Gerba found. The levels of bacteria found were significant enough to cause serious illness, or even death. 

“Furthermore, consumers are alarmingly unaware of these risks and the critical need to sanitize their bags on a weekly basis,” Gerber said in a 2010 University of Arizona news release

To clean: Thoroughly wash all reusable bags, including with bleach if desired. 

Converse All Stars trainers worn by Keith Moon of The Who are displayed at Christies before auction on April 26, 2007, in London, England.(Stuart Wilson/Getty Images)

Shoes

Gerba found that it takes just two weeks for a brand new pair of shoes to collect as many as 421,000 of bacteria, according to a study of germs collected on footwear.

“The common occurrence (96 percent) of coliform and E. coli bacteria on the outside of the shoes indicates frequent contact with fecal material, which most likely originates from floors in public restrooms or contact with animal fecal matter outdoors,” Gerba said

To clean: Throwing machine washable shoes into the machine with detergent eliminates all fecal bacteria and reduces all bacteria by 90 percent or more, Gerba found.  

Disneyland shuts cooling towers after Legionnaires’ outbreak

Published: Saturday, November 11, 2017 @ 2:15 PM

Legionnaires’ Outbreak in Disneyland

Disneyland shut down two cooling towers in October after people who visited the Southern California theme park were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease.

A dozen cases of the bacterial illness were discovered approximately three weeks ago, the Orange County Health Care Agency confirmed to The Associated Press. All the patients lived or had spent time in Anaheim and nine had visited Disneyland in September. One patient, who hadn’t visited the park, has died.

>> Read more trending news

Legionnaires’ can cause severe pneumonia. It is spread by mist from contaminated water. 

Disneyland says it learned about the Legionnaires’ cases in late October and shut down and disinfected two cooling towers that tested for high levels of the bacteria. The towers will reopen once they are no longer contaminated, park officials said.

The health agency told The AP that no new cases have been reported.

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Woman made up story about doctors leaving camera inside her after surgery, hospital says

Published: Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 5:55 AM

Emory University Hospital. (Credit: John Spink / jspink@ajc.com)
John Spink / jspink@ajc.com
Emory University Hospital. (Credit: John Spink / jspink@ajc.com)(John Spink / jspink@ajc.com)

Earlier this year, a patient at an Atlanta hospital filed a lawsuit claiming that a surgeon left a camera in her body during transplant surgery, a camera that was discovered six months later.

Lacrystal Lockett’s lawyers have now dropped the complaint.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Doctors left camera in woman's body after surgery, lawsuit claims

Emory Hospital attorney Anna Fretwell pointed out an apparent problem with the story: No cameras are used in such surgeries.

“No evidence to substantiate the plaintiff’s claims — medical records, photographs, the alleged camera itself, eyewitness testimony, or any other evidence — ever was produced,” Fretwell said in an email to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Instead, the plaintiff and her lawyers admitted that Emory never left a camera in her body or had to remove one and then dropped the lawsuit.”

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Caleb Avraham, who worked with fellow attorney Michael Jo’el Smith for Lockett, didn’t go so far as to say the claim was false.

“I am not Ms. Lockett, so I can’t get into the mind of Ms. Lockett,” he told the AJC. “I know she believes her story. That’s as much as I can say.” 

Attempts to reach Lockett have been unsuccessful.

>> On AJC.com: Doctor, friend die from cocaine laced with fentanyl

Lockett went into surgery on Dec. 17, 2014, for a kidney and pancreatic transplant, according to the suit. Dr. Paul Lu Tso, assisted by doctors Ronald Parsons and Denise J. Lo, performed the procedure.

Lockett’s suit claimed a camera turned up in her torso the following June during an exam at the hospital and required another surgery to remove it.

>> On AJC.com: NFL player protests during anthem and gives critics a tip

Avraham said by the time Lockett came to him and Smith, the statute of limitations was almost up. They had what they believed to be “credible information” — he declined to elaborate — that Lockett’s story was true.

He said they decided to file suit and get more information from the discovery process, as lawyers do in the “pursuit of the truth.”

>> On AJC.com: Many questions after man dies and no one notices

Through discovery and their own investigation, the lawyers decided they didn’t have enough evidence to pursue the case, Avraham said.

Lockett had been asking for a jury to decide what she was owed for the alleged negligence.

Doctors Leave Camera In Woman's Body After Surgery

Want to save thousands of dollars? Lose weight, study says

Published: Wednesday, September 27, 2017 @ 5:22 PM

New research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health says losing weight can save thousands of dollars.
JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images/Blend Images
New research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health says losing weight can save thousands of dollars.(JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images/Blend Images)

Weight loss has its share of benefits — lower risk of heart disease or diabetes, better-fitting clothing and boosted energy, to name a few.

>> Read more trending news

But, according to new research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, if you’re either obese or overweight, shedding those pounds could save you upwards of $30,000 in your lifetime.

The findings, published Tuesday in the journal Obesity claim 20-, 40- and 50-year-olds would save significant dollars in direct medical costs and productivity losses over their lifetime if they go from obese to overweight or from obese to a healthy weight.

Related: Want to lose more weight? Ditch your diet for a couple of weeks, study suggests

Using previous knowledge that people with a high body mass index (BMI) are more prone to conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer -- all conditions with steep price tags -- the researchers created a computational simulation of the U.S. adult population.

The simulation examined adults at various ages, weights and health statuses, and then calculated estimated direct medical costs, productivity losses (including sick time).

Here’s how much money you could save by losing weight:

Age 20

Obese to overweight: $17,655

Obese to healthy weight: $28,020

Age 40

Obese to overweight: $18,262

Obese to healthy weight: $31,447

Age 50, cost savings peak

Average total savings: $36,278

Though researchers found that cost savings peaked at age 50 and decreased with older ages, they noted that older adults who lose weight can still save money.

In the U.S., more than 70 percent of adults are considered to be overweight or obese. That costs the country nearly $210 billion each year, study authors wrote.

Related: These 9 healthy-sounding foods have more sugar than a Krispy Kreme doughnut 

“Over half the costs of being overweight can be from productivity losses, mainly due to missed work days. This means that just focusing on medical costs misses a big part of the picture, though they're a consideration, too,” Bruce Y. Lee, executive director of the Global Obesity Prevention Center at the Bloomberg School, said in a news release. “Productivity losses affect businesses, which in turn affects the economy, which then affects everyone.”

Read the full study and its methodology at onlinelibrary.wiley.com.

Woman gives birth in car to baby still in amniotic sac

Published: Saturday, September 02, 2017 @ 12:26 PM

Woman Gives Birth to Baby While in Car

A woman’s Instargram post showing a photo of her newborn baby still in its amniotic sac after she gave birth in a car went viral this week.

Raelin Scurry, who lives in the Pittsburgh area, said that on the morning of Aug. 5 she thought she was feeling false labor contractions 29 weeks into her pregnancy.

“After about 45 minutes of consistent contractions that were increasing in intensity I decided I should probably go in,” Scurry said in her Instagram post

She then got into the car with her boyfriend, but a few minutes into the drive Scurry knew she was not going to make it to the hospital in time. 

“The contractions continued to get closer together and more intense and before I knew it I knew it was time to push. I called 911 because I was so scared. They couldn't understand me between the screams with contractions,” she said in her post.  

Once Scurry delivered the baby, she realized her son was still wrapped up in his amniotic sac. Although dispatchers told the couple to pull over, she did not want to wait and they arrived to the hospital seven minutes later. 

(WARNING: Graphic image) READ MORE BELOW

Our birth story! ❤ The human body is truly an amazing thing. 8.5.2017 at about 10am I started having contractions. I was only 29 weeks and 4 days so I just figured they were Braxton hicks and decided to wait it out. After about 45 minutes of consistent contractions that were increasing in intensity I decided I should probably go in. I there in some clothes. Grabbed my daughter some clothes, her my fiance And I left for the hospital. I dropped my daughter to her God mommy Nicole And headed to the hospital. Well the contractions continued to get closer together and more intense and before I knew it I knew it was time to push. I called 911 because I was so scared. They couldn't understand me between the screams with contractions. So I handed the phone to my fiance. I pulled my pants off and reached down, sure enough his head was right there. I pushed one time and my miracle baby was here. When I looked down I realized he was still completely wrapped in the amniotic sac. The dispatcher told us to pull over. But I knew we would make it to the hospital before they would make it to us. So I told Ean to keep driving. I was so scared. My Fiance was so calm driving and on the phone with 911. At first the baby was still and all I could do was pray he would be okay. And then I rubbed his face with my thumb and he pulled his little hands and feet up to his face as if he understood my prayers and wanted to reassure us he was okay. About 7 minutes passed that I held this miracle baby in my hands until we made it to the hospital. A familiar face came running out and grabbed my baby. He was born an caul. This happens 1 in every 80,000 births. Usually during c-section. He was 3lb 1oz. He doing wonderful all things considered all He went through I know he's going to be an awesome little man! ❤ he is truly a miracle baby. We are so blessed to be his parents. #encaul #encaulbirth #carbirth #miriclebaby

A post shared by Raelin Scurry (@raeee_nacoal23) on

What happened during Scurry’s delivery was a phenomenon called caul birth, which only happens 1 in every 80,000 births, usually by cesarean section, she explained in her post. 

The baby boy, named Ean Jamal Vanstory Jr. (E.J. for short), is doing well, Scurry said in updates on Instagram.