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CHECKUP : NEWS, TIPS AND TRENDS BACTERIA MULTIPLY IN MOIST SPONGES.

Wet sponges are fertile breeding grounds for bacteria - some of which can be harmful to the very young, very old or to others whose immune systems are weakened, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Arizona, identified 28 different types of bacteria in 325 cellulose sponges and 75 cotton dishcloths collected in Los Angeles, Miami, Boston and New York.

Many of these cleaning tools contained fecal coliform, which can cause disease in patients with weakened immune systems.

Salmonella was found in 15.4 percent of cellulose sponges and 13.8 percent of dishcloths. ``The relatively common occurrence of salmonella in kitchen cleaning tools is of concern, as approximately 2 to 4 million cases of salmonella poisoning occur in the United States each year,'' wrote Carlos Enriquez and four others.

Another bacteria, staphylococcus aureus, a principal cause of serious food poisonings in the United States, was present in 20 percent of sponges and 18 percent of dishcloths, they reported.

To avoid any possible contamination, dry off any surfaces - such as cutting boards or countertops - that have been wiped with a wet sponge before preparing food, Enriquez advised.

Because bacteria thrive in moisture, let wet sponges dry out thoroughly between each use, he added.

Credit for health care: Americans are spending more for their out-of-pocket health-care costs, but few have money put away for future planned or unplanned health and dental care, a new VISA survey shows.

A recent survey of 705 adults between the ages of 18 and 64 found that nearly one-third, 29 percent, say these expenses went up in the past year.

More than one-third paid over $500 in the past year out-of-pocket and more than 20 percent paid between $200 and $500, the study found.

Eighty-nine percent of those questioned have health insurance - but 71 percent said they haven't put aside money for out-of-pocket health-care expenses.

Many health-care providers offer payment by credit card, but many consumers don't know they have this choice, according to the credit-card company.

More than 220,000 health-care facilities, including 95 percent of hospitals, 80 percent of dental offices and 51 percent of doctors' offices now accept VISA credit cards, the company said.

VISA transactions in the health-care industry last year reached $6.6 billion, with an average transaction of $160, the company said.

And more Americans expect to pay for their medical and dental care with plastic, the company said - 72 percent of those surveyed said they think both doctors and dentists should allow patients to pay for their services with a credit card.
COPYRIGHT 1996 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 17, 1996
Words:429
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