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Simmons Launches Nation's First Center on Hygiene and Health in the Home and Community

BOSTON (July 12, 2004) — A national center on hygiene and health in the home and community, aimed at helping the public better understand how to minimize the growing risk of infections acquired in the community, has been established at Simmons College in Boston.

The Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community, the first center of its kind in the country, was established as a national and international information resource on hygiene. The center will target the general population as well as the elderly, children, and pregnant women, who are most susceptible to infection.

"In this so-called ‘post-antibiotic era,' infectious diseases are increasing worldwide," says center co-director Elizabeth Scott, Ph.D., a Simmons biology professor and scientific board member of the International Scientific Forum on the Home and Hygiene. "They continue to exert a heavy toll on human health, even in industrialized countries.

"In the U.S. alone, 25% of all physician visits are the result of infections, not to mention the countless mild infections that don't result in a doctor's visit. And there are an estimated 76 million cases of preventable, food-borne illnesses in the U.S. The need for this center, where home and community hygiene issues can be addressed in one place, is clear."

The center will make recommendations for hygiene practice, training, and research in such areas as food safety, home hygiene, daycare and preschool, home care, sports and leisure activity, travel, and hospitality. Center leaders also plan to sponsor conferences, courses, and certificate programs in hygiene and health.

Current or planned projects include a project to develop methods to evaluate microbial cross-contamination associated with floor mopping techniques, food hygiene and kitchen sanitation practices associated with in-home food preparation, hygiene practices and infant formula preparation in the home, and the development of biofilms in sponges.

The center is based at the Simmons School of Health Sciences and the Department of Biology. Center co-directors are Scott and Nancie Herbold, Ed.D., R.D., director of Nutrition Programs and the Ruby Winslow Linn Professor of Nutrition at Simmons.

The center was funded initially with seed grants from the Proctor & Gamble Company and Reckitt Benckiser.

For further information, contact Diane Millikan, Simmons College public relations director, at 617-521-2364 or the Hygiene and Health Center at hygieneandhealth@simmons.edu, Dr. Scott at 617-521-2664, e-mail scotte2@simmons.edu, or Dr. Herbold at 617-521-2709, e-mail nancie.herbold@simmons.edu

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