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WITH FLYING COLOURS: Spectators take photographs of runners in the annual Sao Silvestre Run winding through the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

PAULO WHITAKER/REUTERS

GERM ALERT

If you weren't a germaphobe before, get ready to become one. CTV News reports on a new study that indicates two common bacteria responsible for colds, ear infections and strep throat are capable of lingering much longer than previously believed. Researchers from the University of Buffalo recently took their testing equipment into a daycare centre, where four out of five stuffed toys tested positive for S. pneumonaie, and several surfaces, including cribs and books, tested positive for S. pyogenes. The scary part: The testing was done just prior to the centre opening in the morning, so there were at least 12 hours before the objects had any human contact. "Commonly handled objects that are contaminated with these biofilm bacteria could act as reservoirs of bacteria for hours, weeks or months," said study author Dr. Anders Hakansson.

GRIN AND BEAR IT

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Long known for their stoic nature, German people are starting to change their attitudes toward pain management. As reported in The Wall Street Journal, 170 German hospitals are taking part in a multinational registry known as Pain Out to exchange information patient satisfaction with their pain control. The program goal is to create a map of pain management in the country and maximize the most effective approaches. In the past, most German patients expected high levels of pain following surgery. The new method involves comprehensive approaches to pain management, including cocktails of medications that have been found to reduce the use of opioids, which come with the risk of addiction. The shift to controlling pain is a new concept for most Germans. Said nurse and pain researcher Nadja Nestler: "In Germany, it was normal for many, many years for people to never talk about their pain."

MEMORY LANES

Even people with exceptional recall can fall prey to false memories. The Verge reports on research revealing that people with normally accurate memory are just as vulnerable to the inception of fake memories as other people. The University of California, Irvine study focused on people with highly superior autobiographical memory (HSAM). In one test, subjects were falsely told that there was news footage of the plane crash of United 93 in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001. When researchers asked the HSAM subjects if they had seen the footage, 20 per cent said they had, compared to 29 per cent of normal-memory people. In other tests, HSAM subjects said they remembered false events at roughly the same pace as people with normal memory. "Even though this study is about people with superior memory, it should really make people stop and think about their own memory," said researcher Lawrence Pathis.

THOUGHT DU JOUR

Use your imagination not to scare yourself to death but to inspire yourself to life. – Adele Brookman, psychotherapist

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