Have you walked past a pond, river or lake and noticed a greenish slimy substance floating on the surface of the water? Did you ever wonder what that substance was which was surely polluting the water? Well, that slimy substance is called a biofilm and what is a biofilm? Biofilms are a collection of microorganisms secreted together by a slime layer that forms when in contact with water. These biofilms welcome bacteria and molds to join their slime fest. The problem with biofilms are they are particularly resistant to biocides that are designed to destroy bacteria.
Picture the first pioneers that settled in the Americas. The first colonies of the Americas only were able to survive and grow because they stuck together for survival against the external elements of harsh winters and opposing enemies. Biofilms work on the same concept of safety in numbers. Biofilms are compromised of multiple bacterial organisms that communicate and work together to substain a growing community while at the same time fending off external attacks. Continue reading
The Ebola virus has emerged again in Africa, only this time striking on the Western Coast. The virus is believed to have originated from a two year old boy who lived in the border village of Guéckédou in Guinea. The village lies close to developed roads that bring travelers into Sierra Leone and Liberia. As the virus spread from relatives and friends of the boy’s family it too quickly crossed borders into the neighboring countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia before health officials were alerted of the outbreak. Today the nations of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia are trying their best to contain this deadly virus, as more cases continue to surface in their nations. As of August 8, 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports there are 1,779 Ebola virus cases with the death toll at 961. With the fatality rate reaching 54%, the rest of the world is concerned the virus will spread out of Africa and into their countries. What would happen if the virus spread outside of Africa? Continue reading
Did you mysteriously get a cold sore for the first time in your late 20’s or 30’s? Ever wonder how you picked up the mouth herpes without kissing a person who had one? It could be you contradicted the herpes virus years earlier while playing a friendly game of beer pong with your college pals. According to a recent Fox News Mobile segment, doctors warned college Spring Breakers about the hazards playing beer pong could have on their health.
Their guest speaker, Dr. Peterson, advised playing beer pong made it more likely to fall sick to the flu, mono, and the herpes virus. The way the game is played promotes the spread of germs. Why is this the case? Continue reading
How can the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other government health officials track Superbug outbreaks when hospitals are not required to report antibiotic- resistant bacteria outbreaks? The answer is they can’t. The state of Florida took the first step towards correcting this problem. Rep. Janet Adkins took the lead on this initiative by sponsoring a bill which requires the state health department to maintain and report any type of Superbug outbreak that occurs within the state.
Currently, hospitals and long term care facilities are reluctant to report any Superbug outbreaks for fear of bad press and ruined reputations. But this causes unnecessary risks to other patients’ health. Patients who are scheduled for surgeries are now put at risk if there is an outbreak and it is not reported. These patients if given disclosure of the current outbreak could very easily postpone their operations until the threat is over or schedule their appointments at another facility. If the new bill passed, patients would be given this chance to protect their health and avoid contacting a life-threatening Superbug. Continue reading
U.S. Hospitals and nursing homes in 41 states have reported the spread of Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) infections amongst their patients since the first case was reported back in 2001. CRE are highly adaptive bacteria that can resist all carbapenem antibiotics including the last resort drugs. What is alarming is there is no cure for these types of infections. With no effective antibiotics to fight off the CRE infections, the CRE is killing its victims.
Already it is estimated that 50% of infected persons do not survive from CRE infections. “From the perspective of drug-resistant organisms, (CRE) is the most serious threat, the most serious challenge we face to patient safety,” says Arjun Srinivasan, associate director for prevention of health care-associated infections at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
How do people get CRE infections?
Do you carry in your car a small bottle of hand sanitizer? With all the germs we come in contact throughout our day, it makes sense for people to want to carry hand sanitizer. Stop and think about the objects we all can’t avoid touching but that we know are oozing with hundreds if not thousands of germs. It is such an unpleasant experience to know your hands are dirty but not be able to clean them. Below are the list of 5 objects that are covered in germs that people hate touching. Continue reading
The Occupational Safety and Heath Administration requires restaurants and hospitals to post visual signs for their employees reminding them all to wash their hands before returning to work. You have probably seen these signs in restrooms and in kitchens stating the message “ALL EMPLOYEES MUST WASH HANDS BEFORE RETURNING BACK TO WORK ”. It should be common sense to sanitize hands regularly when preparing food for customers or before visiting sick patients, right?
STOP RIGHT THERE!
It should be, but unfortunately not all people inherit the common sense gene. As a result of their gross habits, millions of people a year get sick from cross contamination bacteria. How can we get these people to be responsible and sanitize their hands? Companies like Procter & Gamble and Agency of Design have come up with innovative products to do just that. Continue reading
How many times have you purchased a fountain soda with ice at a fast food restaurant? Fifty times, a hundred times, more than you can count? Now what if I told you that the ice in your soda contained more bacteria than the water found in the toilet at the fast food restaurant. Pretty disgusting information to digest but nevertheless unfortunately found to be true. A little twelve year girl named Jasmine Roberts from southern Florida made this astounding discovery while conducting a science experiment for her science fair project in 2006.
As part of her research Roberts took samples from five different fast food restaurants in southern Florida. After flushing the toilet she gathered samples of the toilet water and ice samples from the ice machine at each establishment. Her research showed that 70 percent of the time, ice from fast food restaurants tested dirtier than toilet water. In some cases, E. coli bacteria was present on ice samples. And where does E. coli bacteria come from? It comes from human feces. Continue reading
Researchers Mart Luksza of Columbia University and Michael Lässig of University of Cologne recently successfully developed the computer model to predict the evolution of the influenza virus from one year to the next year. The influenza virus has many strains and is constantly mutating itself to defeat the human immune system. Every year, the World Health Organization closely analyzes influenza virus strands to try to predict which strands will be the most likely to cause mass human outbreaks. They then advise the drug manufacturers to produce vaccines for only those strands of the influenza to give flu shots to the general public. The problem with this approach is there is much guess work still at play for determining which strands will attack humans that year. Sometimes, they guess wrong and large epidemics of new flu viruses hit the public. It is unfortunately just too costly for the governments to make vaccines for all possible flu strands, like the influenza virus a and b.
Luksza and Lässig decided to collaborate together and work towards eliminating the guess work from the selection process. Using the Darwin theory of survival of the fittest, they approached the matter based on the question “what determines how fit a virus is?” Continue reading
Imagine going to a restaurant where the waitress describes the fish of the day as Mahi-mahi stuffed with toxic ciprofloxacin antibiotics and sprinkled with Viagra. Would you wish to eat that Mahi-mahi? The truth of the matter is that a large portion of the fish we eat are contaminated by toxic pharmaceutical chemicals. Pharmaceutical companies like Big Pharma dump hundreds of pounds of toxic pharmaceutical products into our oceans and waterways every day! Continue reading