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Yes, ‘germs may not be aware’ after all


Observing hygiene is very import, and some of the things to be avoided include contact with flies that tend to carry disease-causing pathogens.

But a hygiene expert seems to disagree. He claims that you don’t need to throw away food if a fly lands on it.

Dr Cameron Webb of University of Sydney advises that eating food that a fly has landed on does not pose any health risk.

Webb shared his hypothesis through the university’s website, explaining that, “While there is little doubt that flies can carry bacteria, viruses and parasites from waste to our food, a single touchdown is unlikely to trigger a chain reaction leading to illness for the average healthy person.”

Webb’s inference is also pegged on the quality of an environment. He argues that ‘city’ flies display improved hygiene and therefore shouldn’t be much of a bother.

However, flies in the countryside are more likely to have come from animal excreta and similarly dirty surfaces.

At the core of his hypothesis, Webb points out that health risk is more probable when transmitted pathogens are left to multiply and grow in numbers.

Therefore taking food that flies have landed on immediately greatly cuts down the virulence of the disease-causing agent.

So, essentially, if a fly has a single and brief landing, there’s nothing to fear and you might as well go ahead and eat away!

“Flies that land out of sight and then wander about for a few minutes vomiting and pooping on your food or food preparation area are more of a concern,” he says.

Practically though, there are places where a fly landing on food is a non-factor.

Every food would be thrown out and everyone would remain hungry, if we were too concerned about flies.

This, by no means, is not to say that eating food subjected to fly landings is 100 per cent safe.

On the contrary, some experts think it is equal to playing Russian roulette.

“You just may never tell which fly is actually carrying a virulent pathogen,” argues Pauline Mwinzi, an expert on infectious diseases with CDC and Kemri in Kisumu.

According to Pauline, flies are serious disease vectors that should be regarded as such.

She says: “There is a risk to eat food that a fly (or flies) has landed on. The fly may be coming from a harmless surface. But no one can ascertain that. I would say, to be sure of safety, that we don’t entertain flies on food.”

The common house fly (musca domestica), can transmit hundreds of human and animal diseases; such as salmonella, cholera and typhoid.

“Keep your food covered at all times. Don’t allow flies close to it,” advises Pauline.

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