How do antibacterial cutting boards and toys help prevent the spread of bacterial infections?

An antibacterial impregnated in a toy or in some other consumer product must be registered with the Environmental Protection Agency. Companies that manufacture such things have correctly perceived that germs on cutting boards and in children’s toys are among those people worry most about, and they’ve come to the rescue with antibacterial products they claim … Read more

How do antibacterial cleaners and soaps do more harm than good?

The company that makes Lysol announced in a television commercial that they are now selling a kind of paper towel soaked in liquid disinfectant, “kills 99.9 percent of germs”, the same percentage that Tide with Bleach claims to wipe out. There are all sorts of products, hundreds of them, that are advertised as antibacterial, including … Read more

What Infectious Diseases can you catch at a Tattoo Parlor?

A tattoo parlor doesn’t seem like a particularly salubrious place, and having someone stick a needle through your skin seems obviously to carry some risk, but the risk of getting any blood-borne disease by getting a tattoo are extremely low, at least in the United States. Although it is of course theoretically possible to transmit … Read more

What types of Germs, Bacteria, and Microbial Organisms can be found in municipal water systems?

The Contaminant Candidate List sounds like it might be a registry of anti-environmental office seekers published by the Sierra Club. But it’s actually a list of the contaminants in public drinking water that may require regulation, and the Environmental Protection Agency is required to issue such a list every five years. The last one came … Read more

How do we find out about new Flu strains in time to develop new vaccines against them?

How do we find out about new strains in time to develop new vaccines against them? The World Health Organization, in cooperation with dozens of other national and international health groups, maintains the Global Outbreak Alert and Response program to provide continuous surveillance of infectious disease outbreaks around the world. This program covers all kinds … Read more

What is the most common cause of waterborne disease and Where does Cryptosporidium come from?

On September 3, 1999, 10 children in counties near Albany, New York, were hospitalized with bloody diarrhea, and everyone wanted to know why. Health officials quickly discovered two facts: they were all infected with E. coli O157:H7, the most deadly form of the E. coli bacterium, and they had all attended the Washington County Fair, … Read more

Where does Bottled Water come from and Is Bottled Water safe to drink?

If the bottle label reads “well water,” “artesian well water,” “spring water,” or “mineral water,” that certainly sounds healthful, and may even be healthful, but such sources can be polluted with cryptosporidium, too. There is a large variety of water brands, and an almost equally large variety of sources from which the water comes. A … Read more

Where does the Giardia lamblia Parasite come from and How common is Giardiasis?

Giardia lamblia is the other common protozoan parasite that infests drinking water. During the 1990s, reports of giardiasis increased all over the country. In 1997–1998, the latest years for which the CDC has published statistics, New York State, including New York City, had the largest number of cases, 3,673. But before you conclude from this … Read more

Where does Malaria come from and How does Malaria spread?

Rubbing on insect repellent and slapping at mosquitoes is a summertime tradition. Just the smell of a spritz of Off! gives some people Proustian recollections of fun-filled days at summer camp. But until the 1920s, mosquitoes were a cause of deadly epidemics in the United States, and everyone now knows that they’re back again carrying … Read more

How do the companies that sell antibacterial soap and hand cleaners label their products?

Why do they print directions on the back of your liquid antibacterial hand soap bottle? Do you really need “directions” on how to use soap? Antibacterial products used to clean bathrooms or kitchen sinks are not drugs, and therefore their labeling is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission. Same for ordinary (i.e., non-antibacterial) soap. But … Read more

How do you catch Malaria in New York?

Suffolk County, New York, has beautiful beaches and beautiful people. Rich New Yorkers own elaborate summer houses there, in different neighborhoods from the local year-rounders who serve them, of course. Those who don’t own can rent them, rentals at $20,000 a month and more are common. Some people commute to jobs in Manhattan from Suffolk. … Read more

What infectious diseases can you get when riding the Subway or Bus?

A lot of people worry about “picking up something” while they’re using public transportation. In New York City, the most feared location for mysophobes is undoubtedly the subway. Everyone squashed together, sneezing, coughing, wiping their noses, and then grabbing those poles to keep from falling over every time the train stops, starts, or lurches. The … Read more

How safe is the food at a fancy Restaurant?

You’re relaxed, sipping your wine, waiting for your appetizer, looking forward to a nice quiet dinner: broiled lamb chops provençal, your favorite. The people at the next table have just left, and their dirty dishes are being collected by the busboy, who was rubbing his cheek, or was it his nose?, on his way over … Read more

What are Arboviruses and Where do Arboviruses come from?

The group of viruses that are transmitted by insects are called (and this is not a technical term) “arboviruses.” The term is a coinage based on “ARthropod BOrne Virus.” West Nile, transmitted by a mosquito, is one of these. There are several other viruses transmitted by insects to humans, all of them quite rare in … Read more

Where does Chlamydia psittaci come from and How do birds spread Avian chlamydiosis?

You may remember Chlamydia trachomatis, it’s the bacterium that causes the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States, chlamydia. A closely related species, Chlamydia psittaci, infects pet birds (and more rarely certain wild birds as well) and can be transmitted to humans, who can get flu-like symptoms from it, and sometimes more serious … Read more

What bacterial infections are resistant to antibiotics and Why?

While resistant strains of the potentially deadly S. aureus bacterium have been known for some years to occur in hospitals, it is only recently that these strains have made their way into the community at large. In 1997, a seven-year-old girl from an urban area of Minnesota was admitted to a hospital with a temperature … Read more

How are most Diseases spread at Day Care Centers?

Shigellosis is another disease kids risk contracting in day care centers and passing on to their families. In 1991 there was an outbreak of Shigella sonnei infection in Lexington-Fayette County, Kentucky, that involved 14 licensed day care centers, making a lot of people sick but, every cloud has a silver lining, giving researchers a chance … Read more

Where does Respiratory Syncytial Virus come from and How does RVS cause pneumonia?

The most common cause of serious respiratory tract infections, pneumonia and bronchiolitis (infection of the small vessels in the lungs called bronchioles), in infants and children is a germ called respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. This is another very common virus, so common that by the age of three almost every kid has been infected … Read more

How safe is Vaccination and What were the side effects of the Rotavirus Vaccine?

The Internet can be a significant source of misinformation about vaccines. There are numerous sites that gather scare stories about vaccination based on little more than anecdotal reports from parents, and many chat rooms discussing vaccination in hysterical voices and without benefit of scientific information. This doesn’t mean that vaccines are without dangers, there are … Read more

How do Vaccines help prevent the spread of Infectious Diseases?

Viruses are parasitic. They can only live and reproduce inside the cells of other animals or plants, in scientific terms, they are called obligate survive in one environment (if a germ can survive in more than one environment, it is called facultative); they are intracellular because they must live inside cells; they are molecular parasites … Read more

Where does Syphilis come from and How does Syphilis spread?

The Italians call it the French disease; the French call it the English disease. Russians blamed the Poles, the Poles blamed the Germans. At least since the sixteenth century, Europeans have been blaming each other, if it isn’t English, French, Polish, Russian, or German, then it’s Venetian or Neapolitan. Some believe Columbus brought it back … Read more

What is the Most Common STD and Where does Chlamydia come from?

Chlamydia is probably the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States, even more common than herpes-2. There were more than 640,000 new cases of chlamydia reported in 2000 and more than 290,000 through the first six months of 2001. Since all diseases are underreported, and since most people with chlamydia are not even … Read more

How common are STDs and How are STIs prevented and treated?

You may think that sexually transmitted infections are someone else’s problem, but in fact 55 million Americans have at least one sexually transmitted disease (STD). More than 45 million Americans have HSV-2, the sexually transmitted form of the herpes simplex virus, and a million more get it every year. There’s no cure for it. Two … Read more

Why is the Bacteria that causes severe Acne developing a resistance to Antibiotics?

In May 2001, a Swedish researcher named Carl Erik Nord made news by announcing at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology that the bacteria that causes severe acne, Propionibacterium acnes, were developing resistance to the antibiotics used to treat the affliction. This may have been news to the reporter who wrote the … Read more

Where does Listeria Bacteria come from and How is Listeriosis prevented?

In the late summer and fall of 1998 Listeria monocytogenes, a gram-positive bacterium that lives everywhere in the world except Antarctica, caused about 40 illnesses in ten different U.S. states. The CDC in cooperation with state health departments in Connecticut, New York, Ohio, and Tennessee determined that all these cases came from a single strain … Read more

What causes Trichomoniasis and How is a Trichomoniasis infection treated?

Syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, papillomavirus, chlamydia, you’d think that would be enough bacteria and viruses to worry about, especially at a moment when you’re preoccupied with something more pressing. But there’s more. The cause of trichomoniasis is neither a bacterium nor a virus. It’s the cause of a microscopic parasite, a protozoan called Trichomonis vaginalis that … Read more

Where does Campylobacter bacteria come from and How do Campylobacter infections spread?

Since 1989, when it surpassed the number of outbreaks caused by salmonella, Campylobacter has been the most common cause of bacterial gastroenteritis in the United States. An estimated 2.4 million people get infected with it every year. It’s a gram-negative rod-shaped bacterium, and there are three species of it that cause human disease. C. coli … Read more

How many different types of Germs, Bacteria, and Viruses live on a Toothbrush?

Shocking but true: your toothbrush is dirtier than your toilet seat. It is hard to predict exactly which germs are on your toothbrush right now, but staphylococci, coliforms, pseudomonads, streptococci, and at least one fungus, candida, have all been cultured from used toothbrushes. In one Australian study, staphylococci and streptococci were the most commonly found … Read more

Where does Salmonella come from and How does Salmonella Bacteria spread?

In 1999, the CDC tracked nine different food-borne illnesses caused by bacteria, and confirmed by laboratory analysis 10,697 cases. Salmonella infection accounted for 4,533 of these, a little more than 42 percent. Salmonellosis is actually caused by a group of bacteria. The most common serotypes in the United States are called Salmonella enteriditis and Salmonella … Read more

How do Antimicrobial clothes, toys, and soap help prevent the spread of disease?

Many consumer products are advertised as having been treated with antimicrobial chemicals. These include not only clothing, but pens, cutting boards, toys, household cleaners, hand lotions, cat litter, soap, cotton swabs, toothbrushes, and various cosmetics. There are children’s pajamas, mattresses, and bed linens for sale that make such claims. The CDC is unequivocal about the … Read more

Where does Shigella Bacteria come from and How are Shigella infections treated?

Bacteriologists are quite proud when their name becomes attached to a disease causing organism. This is not true of other people, American Legion members are not at all happy about having Legionnaire’s disease named after them, and homeowners and real estate agents in Lyme, Connecticut, could have done without having their city’s name permanently attached … Read more

How many people don’t wash their hands after using the toilet?

John Lynn, of Austin, Texas, thinks people don’t wash their hands often enough, and he thinks it’s about time someone did something about it. According to Patent Number 6,147,607, Mr. Lynn has designed a way of preventing people from slipping away from the bathroom without washing. He proposes a mechanism attached to a toilet handle … Read more

Can you be hospitalized for OCD?

Yes, it is possible to be hospitalized for OCD. This can occur for several reasons. First, it may be a way to help stabilize someone whose rituals have become so problematic that all he or she does all day long is perform rituals. Often in these cases family members will bring someone in to a … Read more

How are OCD and pyromania related to each other?

Pyromania is, according to the DSM-IV-TR (2000), “deliberate and purposeful fire setting on more than one occasion.” Prior to the act of fire setting, there is an increase in tension, and there is a long-held fascination with fire. Once the fire is set, there is a sense of relief or joy. Fires set by people … Read more