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Dominica weekly is a personal weblog about the nature island of Dominica.

Like to order a large soda to go with your Value Meal? Well how about a side order of fecal matter?

I hate to spoil your appetite, but you might want to think twice about drinking sodas from soda fountains. Yep, the same soda fountains you usually find at your favorite fast food restaurant.

Research indicates that the plastic tubing inside the soda machines may be a breeding ground for fecal bacteria.

So just how does fecal bacterial end up in the soft drink machines? Employees who do not wash their hands properly and then touch the machine, or if the water lines are not thoroughly cleaned, allowing bacteria to spread throughout the water lines and into the drinks.

Hand washing is still the simplest and cheapest way to avoid getting sick, helping to prevent the common cold, diarrhea and of course, the swine flu (H1N1), among other things.

Makes you wonder huh: Like how often are these water lines are drained out and sterilize? You might be surprise to know how long.

Although there have been no reports of illness caused by the bacteria, contaminated drinks could pose a threat to people who are already weakened by sickness. If you’re one of those people who have a weakened immune system, you just might want to skip the self-serve soda fountain.

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Planning an adventure vacation in the mountains? Dreaming about blazing new trails in the rainforest? Then Dominica might just be the perfect island for that next adventure vacation.

Every year during the month of May the Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association organizes a series of hikes around Dominica as apart of the annual Hikefest. As avid hiker, I’ve been able to trek many of these trails – most of which involves hiking up to the summit of mountains.

I have heard a lot about Altitude Sickness, but I’ve never seen anyone suffer from the illness until recent.

Many people tend to overlook altitude sickness as the reason for the ailments, as the symptoms are similar to those of the flu or the common cold. The low oxygen levels in the higher altitudes force your body to work harder to maintain the level of oxygen it needs.

Some of the symptoms to watch for when you first arrive at summit are shortness of breath, headaches, nausea, appetites loss and insomnia.

To avoid these ill feelings altogether, take a few simple precautions before you hit the trails:

Don’t try the difficult hikes on the first day of your vacation – cutting you activities to just a half day on the first day will allow your body to adjust to the new altitude.

Drink more liquids that usual – Mountains air does not contain as much moisture as the air at sea level, so you lose moisture when you breathe. Drink enough extra water and juices so that you urine say clear.

Don’t let yourself get too hungry – You want to make sure you get enough calories. A well-nourished body adjust to changes better.

Don’t Smoke – Smoking decreases the amount of oxygen getting to your body and could harm you more the higher above sea level you go.

If you do start feeling sick, don’t put off seeing a doctor. If you can’t get to a doctor, it wish to descend several thousand feet, if possible, to see if the symptoms go away. Continue to drink plenty of liquids and get lots of rest.

So the next time you’re planning a vacation that involves you climbing to high altitudes above sea level, you may want to keep some of simple precautions in mind.

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