An earlier edition of this post was originally posted on December 8, 2014.
Bacteria rule the world. Not only do they far outnumber every other type of plant or animal, they are everywhere - inside and outside every other type of animal and in every conceivable environment, from boiling thermal vents to sub-zero glaciers. But not all bacteria are germs, or illness-causing bacteria. Most are vital to our survival and to the survival of life on Earth. Unfortunately, some bacteria are dangerous, especially to those of us with weak immune systems. Today’s post will explore this incredible branch of the tree of life, and our “can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em” relationship with these microorganisms.
What is bacteria?
Bacteria are single-cell organisms. Where humans are made up of, on average 1 trillion cells, bacteria are made up of just one. But one isn't the loneliest number when it comes to bacteria; they reproduce very efficiently by splitting into two, who then go on to split into two more… and on until you have a colony of bacteria. Some of these colonies are beneficial to us, some don't harm us at all, and some are downright nasty, leading to harmful infections which can threaten our lives.
Our last post gave us a glimpse into the life of a mom responding to the shocking diagnosis of cancer in her three-year-old son, Jack. This concluding segment will explore the result of her unrelenting fight against infection as she did everything possible to help her son survive, and the lasting impact that experience has had on her life the life of her son.
With a few words, a family's life is forever changed: "It's cancer." For any patient, these words bring anxiety and fear. When that patient is a child, however, no words can express the emotions that send shock waves through a family, friends, and community. Today's post begins a two-part story of one such young patient, a little boy named Jack. (Best of all, Jack's story has a happy ending.) Stay with us as we see the challenges of pediatric cancer treatment and infection control through the eyes of a boy and his mother.
This post begins a series on how infection, and specifically hospital-associated infections, affect special patient populations. Our first series will be dedicated to those patients facing a cancer diagnosis. As with any serious disease, the many types of cancer put a great deal of stress on the body and can make a person more susceptible to infection. Unique to cancer, however, are the infection risks due to the disease's treatment. Today we will explore how cancer and infection intersect in this special population.
We are right in the middle of the flu season, when more and more tests come back positive for the influenza virus. Next to the common cold, there's probably no more familiar illness than the seasonal flu: If you don't get it, someone you know does. Despite this familiarity, there are some fascinating facts about the flu that most of us do not know. Learning about influenza reveals a global network of researchers whose daily work keeps this virus at bay.
There are 5,627 registered hospitals in the United States. Those facilities can be divided in a variety of categories depending on size, location, demographics, finances, and affiliation. Today's post will explore the various categories into which any given hospital can be assigned. Knowing these categories can help consumers better understand the context of the hospitals from which they have to choose.
With a new year almost upon us, today's post will look at some of the healthcare industry's biggest trends. These issues, while not new, will undoubtedly take center stage over the next year - and beyond.
Many of us are thinking that 2016 turned out to be a pretty rough year. A few of the reasons this year will go down as particularly difficult have to do with health care crises, the biggest of which we will discuss in today's post. This won't be a smooth ride, so buckle up and get ready to explore 2016's biggest health issues.