Pathogens

Category archives for Pathogens

A “potentially historic” blizzard is barreling down on us here in New England, and is poised to drop up to two feet of snow on Boston. All of the schools in the area preemptively closed, our public transit system is shutting down at 3:30pm, and trying to buy groceries last night was bedlam. The snow is just…

There are a lot of reasons that posts to this blog sometimes don’t happen for months at a time, but one of them is that I can often get sucked down the rabbit hole that is Reddit. If you don’t know about reddit yet, you may not want to click that link, but if you…

Technology and Intent

No technology is inherently good or evil, it’s the use of that technology that determines its value. A blade can be used in surgery to save a life, or as a weapon to take one. The ballistics that enable missiles to destroy enemies also enables the launch of communication satellites and exploration of other worlds.…

In other words, you’re more likely to catch a cold from shaking their hand than to get an STI from Sitting on the same bench. There isn’t much reason to fear getting a sexually transmitted disease from naked sitters. These infections are most commonly the result of vigorous and prolonged exposure of a person’s mucous…

There’s a great post at the Sciam guest blog describing the science of antimicrobial cleaners, and it doesn’t look promising: perhaps the most comprehensive study of the effectiveness of antibiotic and non-antibiotic soaps in the U.S., led by Elaine Larson at Columbia University (with Aiello as a coauthor), found that while for healthy hand washers…

Badass Bacteria vs Malaria

In the wild, as I wrote about last week, some strains of commensal bacteria in mosquitoes seem to confer some resistance to infection with Plasmodium, the parasite that causes malaria in humans. Not content to wait for for nature to get around to it, researchers at Johns Hopkins University decided to see if they could…

Maryn McKenna has a typically great post about the rise and spread of a strain of multi-antibiotic resistant Staph aureus. It arose in Holland, where it spread to pigs, picked up resistance to the antibiotic tetracycline, and then jumped back into humans. Then it spread across the EU and into the US. As is often…

What a lovely compliment

[A while back, I received a question from a reader via e-mail. Dear Beasties: If you had a mutation in either C4 or C5 which one would be worse… I guess the question is is it more important to have the ability to opsonize or the ability to lyse cells with the MAC complex? I…

Bacterial Burglary

I feel like I’ve seen this movie before. A group of thieves need to gain entry to a highly secured vault. The vault door is nearly impregnable, and once inside, there are motion sensors, security cameras and laser trip lines, all of which sound the alarm. When the security guards hear what’s happening, they are…

I saw this link on a friend’s facebook page, and left that tab open in my browser for a while, intending to write a post on it. Professor Charles Gerba, the lead researcher, swabbed the handles of 85 carts in four states for bacterial contamination. Gerba says 72% of the carts had a positive marker…