Lesson Learned: Wash Your Hands!

by Connie Goldsmith

[Note from Domenica Di Piazza, TFCB editorial director: I invited Connie Goldsmith to write a little about her three titles in our new USA TODAY Health Reports series, which is part of our Fall 2010 TFCB lineup.]

Connie in sunhat

[Connie, left, at Lake Tahoe, with sun hat, sunscreen, and clean hands]

My critique partners wash their hands 317% more often than they used to, and they wear sunscreen every time they’re outdoors. That’s because they’ve read the three books I’ve written for the new USA TODAY Health Reports: Diseases and Disorders series under the TFCB imprint: Influenza, Hepatitis, and Skin Cancer.

11347 These topics can affect anyone. For example, people tend to underestimate influenza. “It’s just the flu,” they say, but getting the flu is nothing to sneeze at. In reality, flu can be a very dangerous illness. The deadliest epidemic in human history was not the black plague or smallpox. It was the Spanish Flu that swept around the world in 1918-1919, killing as many as 100 million people.

Hepatitis is no slacker either. About one-third of the U.S. population either has hepatitis A, or had it in the past. More than one million Americans have hepatitis B, while 3.2 million have hepatitis C. It can take twenty years before the symptoms of Hepatitis C send people to their doctors. Public health officials are concerned that tens of thousands of people have hepatitis C but don’t know it. They may be unwittingly passing it on to others. Hepatitis B and C are both more contagious than HIV, yet most people know little about them. (Read the book!)

11017 And while skin cancer can be a relatively minor problem, melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, is increasing in frequency among young people. Melanoma is now the most common cancer in women between 25 and 29 years of age. Scientists blame much of the increase on the use of tanning beds. In 2009, the World Health Organization moved tanning beds into the highest cancer risk category, naming them carcinogenic to humans. This puts tanning beds in the same category as cigarettes, arsenic, asbestos, and plutonium.

I feel very fortunate to be part of this exciting new series. I believe teachers and librarians will find books in the USA Today Health Reports series to be helpful and informative for their students. And young readers who are interested in nonfiction, or those who have to write a report for school, may discover that science is not as boring as they thought. Take a look inside when you get a chance and see what you think about the USA TODAY articles and demographic Snapshots and the crisp, colorful design of these new books !

[Photo, top: courtesy of Connie Goldsmith]

Don’t forget to check in next week for more from TFCB!

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