What is Lassa Fever?

Lassa fever is an acute viral illness that occurs in west Africa. The illness was discovered in 1969 when two missionary nurses died in Nigeria. The virus is named after the town in Nigeria where the first cases occurred. The virus, a member of the virus family Arenaviridae, is a single-stranded RNA virus and is zoonotic, or animal-borne.

Lassa fever is endemic in parts of west Africa including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria; however, other neighboring countries are also at risk, as the animal vector for Lassa virus, the “multimammate rat” (Mastomys natalensis) is distributed throughout the region. In 2009, the first case from Mali was reported in a traveler living in southern Mali; Ghana reported its first cases in late 2011. Isolated cases have also been reported in Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso and there is serologic evidence of Lassa virus infection in Togo and Benin.

The number of Lassa virus infections per year in west Africa is estimated at 100,000 to 300,000, with approximately 5,000 deaths. Unfortunately, such estimates are crude, because surveillance for cases of the disease is not uniformly performed. In some areas of Sierra Leone and Liberia, it is known that 10%-16% of people admitted to hospitals every year have Lassa fever, which indicates the serious impact of the disease on the population of this region.


Norovirus infection can cause the sudden onset of severe vomiting and diarrhea. The virus is highly contagious and commonly spread through food or water that is contaminated by fecal matter during preparation. You can also be infected through close contact with an infected person. Diarrhea, abdominal pain and vomiting typically begin 24 to 48 hours after exposure. Norovirus symptoms last one to three days, and most people recover completely without treatment. However, for some people — especially infants, older adults and people with underlying disease — vomiting and diarrhea can be severely dehydrating and require medical attention. Norovirus infection occurs most frequently in closed and crowded environments such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools and cruise ships.


Signs and symptoms of norovirus infection include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain or cramps
  • Watery or loose diarrhea
  • Malaise
  • Low-grade fever
  • Muscle pain
  • Signs and symptoms usually begin 24 to 48 hours after first exposure to the virus, and last one to three days. You may continue to shed virus in your feces for up to three days after recovery.

Some people with norovirus infection may show no signs or symptoms. However, they are still contagious and can spread the virus to others.


Noroviruses are highly contagious and are shed in the feces of infected humans and animals. Methods of transmission include:

  • Eating contaminated food
  • Drinking contaminated water
  • Touching your hand to your mouth after your hand has been in contact with a contaminated surface or object
  • Being in close contact with a person who has a norovirus infection
  • Noroviruses are difficult to wipe out because they can withstand hot and cold temperatures as well as most disinfectants.

E. Coli & Its Symptoms

fp-ecoliE. coli is a type of bacteria that normally live in the intestines of people and animals. However, some types of E. coli, particularly E. coli 0157:H7, can cause intestinal infection. Symptoms of intestinal infection include diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever. More severe cases can lead to bloody diarrhea, dehydration, or even kidney failure. People with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, young children, and older adults are at increased risk for developing these complications.

Most intestinal infections are caused by contaminated food or water. Proper food preparation and good hygiene can greatly decrease your chances of developing an intestinal infection. Most cases of intestinal E. coli infection can be treated at home. Symptoms generally resolve within a few days to a week.

Symptoms of intestinal infection generally begin between one and five days after you have been infected with E. coli. Symptoms can include:

  • Abdominal ramping
  • Sudden, severe watery diarrhea that may change to bloody stools
  • Gas
  • Loss of appetite/nausea
  • Vomiting (uncommon)
  • Fatigue
  • Fever

Symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to more than a week.

Symptoms of a severe E. coli infection may include:

  • Bloody urine
  • Decreased urine output
  • Pale skin
  • Bruising
  • Dehydration

Call your doctor if you experience any of these severe symptoms.

According to Johns Hopkins Medical Center, about 8 percent of those who are infected develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a condition in which the red blood cells are damaged. This can lead to kidney failure, which can be life-threatening, especially for children and the elderly. HUS generally begins about five to 10 days after the onset of diarrhea.

Asthma Triggers Part 7 – Pollution

Outdoor air pollution is caused by small particles and ground level ozone that comes from car exhaust, smoke, road dust and factory emissions. Outdoor air quality is also affected by pollen from plants, crops and weeds. Particle pollution can be high any time of year and are higher near busy roads and where people burn wood.

When inhaled, outdoor pollutants and pollen can aggravate the lungs, and can lead to chest pain, coughing, digestive problems, dizziness, fever, lethargy, sneezing, shortness of breath, throat irritation and watery eyes. Outdoor air pollution and pollen may also worsen chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma.

Actions You Can Take:

  • Monitor the Air Quality Index on your local weather report.
  • Know when and where air pollution may be bad.
  • Regular exercise is healthy. Check your local air quality to know when to play and when to take it a little easier.
  • Schedule outdoor activities at times when the air quality is better. In the summer, this may be in the morning.
  • Stay inside with the windows closed on high pollen days and when pollutants are high.
  • Use your air conditioner to help filter the air coming into the home. Central air systems are the best.
  • Remove indoor plants if they irritate or produce symptoms for you or your family.
  • Pay attention to asthma warning signs. If you start to see signs, limit outdoor activity. Be sure to talk about this with your child’s doctor.

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Check Back for Part 8

Is Legionella Water Testing Important?

Outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease receive significant media attention especially when a large number of people become ill or die. In contrast to highly publicized outbreaks, single infections with Legionella bacteria often go unnoticed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 8,000 and 18,000 people are hospitalized with Legionnaires’ disease in the United States each year. Legionnaires’ disease is a legitimate public health concern as its fatality rate during an outbreak ranges from 5% to 30% in those who contract the disease. The immediate consequences for the building owner or manager faced with liability claims and negative publicity can be devastating and extremely costly. Many experts agree that proactively managing the risk of Legionella bacteria in cooling towers and water systems is more cost effective than responding to an outbreak retroactively.

While a few states and municipalities have instituted guidelines for monitoring Legionella, there are no federal or state regulations that require routine monitoring of buildings with susceptible individuals. We recommend building owners and hospitals establish a Legionella control and management program, including routine monitoring and testing, in areas where the risk of Legionella infection is high. This accomplishes two tasks:

1) It indicates the effectiveness of control measures already in place, and
2) It provides an early warning of potential problems.

Although some species of Legionella can be found in the soil, most species live in water. The Gram-negative Legionella bacterium thrives in warm, stagnant water but it can survive under a wide range of temperatures (68° to 122°F), pH and dissolved oxygen levels. Legionella pneumophila has been isolated and associated with outbreaks stemming from air-conditioning cooling towers, whirlpool spas and showers. Other water devices can include potable water systems, whirlpool baths, respiratory care equipment, humidifiers and faucets. As water from these sources is aerosolized, individuals inhale the Legionella-containing droplets and the organism is aspirated into the lungs. Smokers and individuals with weakened immune systems have a higher risk of developing Legionellosis (Legionnaires’ disease or Pontiac fever).

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Using Ozone for Remediation

I know this is an ongoing question, and there are remediators who are recommending ozone for cleanup. However, although ozone can damage some fungi, there is not a single study in the peer-reviewed literature that documents sufficient deactivation of fungi to be useful in remediation efforts. Most of the studies of ozone are found in the food industry. Ozone is effective in slowing the growth of fungi on fruits and vegetables. However, under these circumstances, slowing growth for even a few days is considered significant. Delays in spore production as long as 5 days have been reported. While significant in the life of a vegetable, this delay is useless for a residence.

It is true that very high levels of ozone over several hours will significantly lower the concentrations of culturable fungi on hard surfaces. At these concentrations, however, the ozone will damage building contents. Also, ozone disappears rapidly from the air. It attaches onto surfaces, including valuable ones that could be damaged. Data from studies that assess fungi on materials in houses have not been impressive. Fifty percent reductions have been achieved, and considered significant. However, reducing fungal concentrations on a surface from 50,000 to 20,000, although it may be statistically significant, is not important in a remediation sense. Also reported is the fact that fungi are more readily damaged by ozone on smooth, hard surfaces than on porous surfaces.

Unfortunately, fungal growth is most likely on porous materials (such as wallboard) from which it is difficult to remove, while a simple wipe with a damp cloth will remove fungi from smooth surfaces. Remember also that dead fungi may cause as many problems as living ones. It is far more effective to not worry about whether or not the fungi are alive, but instead concentrate on fixing the water/humidity problem and removing materials with fungal growth.

Overall, then, given the potential dangers of ozone damaging building contents and the possibility of negative health effects both for remediators and for occupants, I would not recommend it’s use. In fact, given the negative literature, I would suggest that the use of ozone is contraindicated in mold remediation situations.

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Choosing the Right Size Dehumidifier

Choosing a dehumidifier is not as simple as just which brand or for how much.  The appropriate size is a vital key to getting exactly what you need for your space and condition.  Here’s a quick list which can help you decide the appropriate sized dehumidifier you may need for your home or business.

Slightly Damp

  • Space which is damp and has an occasional musty smell. 50 to 60 Percent Humidity.
  • 300 Square Feet:  30 Pints
  • 500 Square Feet:  40 Pints
  • 1000 Square Feet:  60 Pints
  • 1500 Square Feet:  70 Pints

Moderately Damp

  • Space often feels damp and often smells musty.  60 to 70 Percent Humidity.
  • 300 Square Feet:  30 Pints
  • 500 Square Feet:  40-45 Pints
  • 1000 Square Feet:  60 Pints
  • 1500 Square Feet:  70 Pints

Very Damp

  • Space feels wet, smells musty and damp spots are on walls and floor.  70 to 85 Percent Humidity.
  • 300 Square Feet:  40 Pints
  • 500 Square Feet:  50 Pints
  • 1000 Square Feet:  70 Pints
  • 1500 Square Feet:  90 Pints


  • Space feels wet, smells musty, seepage appears on walls and floor & may have mold.  85 to 100 Percent Humidity.
  • 300 Square Feet:  40 Pints
  • 500 Square Feet:  50 Pints
  • 1000 Square Feet:  70 Pints
  • 1500 Square Feet:  100+ Pints

The pint recommendations above are based on manufacturer-stated capacities in varying testing conditions. If you will be using your dehumidifier in a tough environment with very damp conditions, look for a dehumidifier with your recommended pint capacity tested at AHAM conditions (average humidity conditions of 60%) instead of saturation (100% humidity)​.  A model able to remove 70 pints of water when the air is saturated, for example, is much less robust than a model able to remove 70 pints of water at AHAM conditions.

Other Considerations:

If any of the below factors are true for you, you’ll want to choose a unit with a higher capacity.

  • If your home is located in a humid climate, add 10 pints.
  • If multiple people live or will spend time in the space, add 5 pints.
  • If there are multiple doors and windows in the space, add 5 pints.
  • If there’s a washer and dryer nearby, add 5 pints.

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