Poop in playgrounds: E. coli scare shuts Redwood City Park sandboxes

Two years ago, Christopher Beth, director of the Redwood City Parks, Recreation and Community Services department, received an anonymous tip about a couple of children getting sick after playing in the sandbox at Stafford Park. He decided to order tests.

“We’d never tested the sand before,” Beth said. “Other cities say they don’t test either. There’s no requirement.”

The results showed high levels of E. coli bacteria. Since then, a similar problem was discovered at Maddux Park. The sand play areas at both parks are being replaced with water features, officials said, and the renovations should be done by mid-January.

The sand features at all the other Redwood City parks were tested, and just Maddux came up with an E. coli problem. The source of contamination was feline feces in one case and human feces in the other.

UK child’s face smeared with fox poop after playing in sandbox at garden center

I have some great memories of my kids growing up, playing in the sandbox, covered in runny snot and saying, Dad, is this cat poop?

Cats view sandboxes as giant litterboxes.

Foxes too.

This Is Gloucestershire reports,

Two-year-old Jasmine Westgate was playing in the sandpit at Highfield Garden World in Whitminster when she put her hands in a pile of fox mess.

Jasmine’s father Bruce said,

"It was absolutely vile. Jasmine didn’t know what she was doing and ended up with fox mess all over her face. She ingested some of it too which could have had harmful consequences. There are potentially life-ruining diseases linked with coming into contact with animal faeces. The sandpit shouldn’t have been left in such a state. It obviously hadn’t been cleaned properly by staff.”

Staff at Highfield Garden World, which offers a range of activities for children, said the sandpit was now out of use until further notice.

Managing director Joan Greenway said,

"We would like to apologise to the Westgates for what happened.”

Science says: wine-in-a-box OK

That’s a relief. I love my vino in a box, or from a box. In Maubisson, France, I’d bike to the store, and the dude would fill up a 2 litre bottle with Bordeaux from a box. Awesome.

Gary J. Pickering, senior author of a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry says that for some reason the researchers can’t explain, wines stored in Tetra Pak-brand cartons had the lowest levels of unwanted chemicals, called methoxypyrazines.

One possibility, Pickering said, is that the chemicals escape through the carton’s innermost layer, made of polyethylene, and then attach to an adjacent layer made of aluminum foil.

The best storage method for preventing that problem, the study found, was a bottle sealed with a screw-cap – which, like the cardboard carton, has some connoisseurs wrinkling their refined noses.

Sandbox safety and poop — Michelle Mazur

Cats view sandboxes as a giant litterboxes.

Uncovered sandboxes can pose a threat to a child’s health if there is fecal matter in the sand.  Dogs, raccoons, and especially cats may use this area as a bathroom space.  These animals are known to carry many parasites, such as hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, tapeworms, and coccidia.

If a child puts her fingers in her mouth, she can be infecting herself with the eggs of a parasite.  In some cases, the hookworms will penetrate the skin, causing a condition called cutaneous larva migrans. In 2006, a summer camp in Florida reported an outbreak of cutaneous larva migrans involving 18 campers and four staff members. Cat feces in a sandbox was thought to be the source of the infection.

Scott Weese, a veterinarian and publisher of the Worms and Germs blog, said recently,
"There’s certainly no indication that children should not go into sandboxes. These are extremely rare diseases that affect a very, very small number of people in North America every year."

But if a child puts a handful of sand in his mouth, that might just be the winning ticket to the parasite lottery.

Some preventative measures to keep the parasites out of the sandbox are:

~ Cover the sandbox when it is not in use.  Commercial sandboxes come with covers, or a simple board with a brick on top of it will help to keep wild animals out of the sandbox.

~ Supervise children when they are playing in the sandbox and prevent them from putting their hands in their mouths.

~ Always, always, after coming in from playing outside, wash your hands.