The Origins of Germ Theory, Part 2: A Plague Upon Your House

by Erica Mitchell | May 12 2021

Civilization picked up speed after the discovery of agriculture and animal husbandry, allowing for longer lifespans, healthier people, and lots of population growth. Unfortunately, with population growth comes denser living quarters, enabling contagious diseases to spread more quickly. As humankind spread across the globe in waves of migrations, so did epidemics of unfathomable destruction.
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The Origins of Germ Theory, Part 1: Enter Miasma

by Erica Mitchell | May 5 2021

We take for granted the knowledge that infection is caused by microscopic organisms. But the road to this scientific truth has been long and winding, and medical professionals have taken some pretty odd detours along the way. Hindsight being 20/20, we can examine this path and see the seeds - or germs - of germ theory as we know it today.

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Is Antibacterial Soap the Same As Regular Soap?

by Erica Mitchell | January 13 2021

A study demonstrated that regular soap has the same impact as antibacterial soap at killing bacterial during hand washing. Today we'll explore this study, the chemical being evaluated, and what these results mean to the debate about whether or not antibacterial soaps are helpful.

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When Your Bacteria Colonies Get Hostile: That's An Infection

by Erica Mitchell | September 30 2020

There is a good chance that you have Staph - Staphylococcus aureus - on your body right now. In fact, it is estimated that 25-30% of us carry Staph on our skin or in our nose all the time. But a quarter of us are not sick, suffering from the symptoms of a Staph infection. What's the deal? It comes down to colonization vs. infection.

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Pathogen, Persistence, and Prevalence

by Erica Mitchell | September 16 2020

There are may different pathogens that cause HAIs. Researchers have studied which of these infectious agents tend to cause infections, how those pathogens are transmitted, and which protocols lead to less contamination. Today we'll explore which pathogens cause hospital-acquired infections, which are the most common, and how long can these pathogens survive on surfaces where they can lead to cross-contamination. Think of it as the three P's: Pathogen, Prevalence, and Persistence.

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Stealthy Passengers: E. coli, Klebsiella, and Enterococcus

by Erica Mitchell | August 19 2020

Today's trio of pathogens are stealthy, living on our bodies without causing us harm but wreaking havoc when they find a way inside a bacteria-free, or sterile part of our body (lungs, bloodstream, internal organs, and others). Typically they are surrounded by other species of bacteria in our intestines or on our skin, using all their energy to battle it out for resources with the other species of bacteria that surround them. This keeps them in check. However, if they are able to enter the sterile parts of our body through an incision or medical device, they find themselves in a new territory with absolutely no competition. With uncontested resources, they quickly reproduce and create an infection which can cause great harm, and even death.

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Today we are thankful for... Vaccines.

by Erica Mitchell | August 9 2019

Our blog covers many topics in the healthcare field, most of which focus on preventable hospital-acquired infections. In honor of National Immunization Awareness Month, we focus on a different category of preventable infection, those viral infections that can be avoided thanks to vaccines

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How do Germs Spread?

by Erica Mitchell | June 14 2019

Germ theory, the idea that infection is caused by microscopic organisms unseen to the naked eye, is only a few hundred years old. This theory focuses on three main components.

  1. The reservoir: The person, animal, or surface that carries the infection.
  2. The mode of transmission: Via direct contact, a droplet of liquid, airborne, a vector (such as an insect), or a vehicle (food or surface)
  3. The susceptible host: A person and his/her ports of entry (nose, mouth, incision, medical device, wound)

But the paths from the reservoir to the susceptible host seem infinite. To narrow down the steps needed to prove this relationship between contaminated rooms and infected patients, researchers have proposed routes of transmission that could account for a relationship. Here are two proposals, both of which demonstrate the critical role played by surfaces in the transmission of pathogens.

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Happy Birthday, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek!

by Erica Mitchell | October 24 2016

Today we celebrate the birth of a scientist known as the Father of Microbiology for his role in the use of lenses to observe the microscopic world. Optics and lens-making developed quickly in 16-17th century Europe, allowing research to expand to the universe. But just as lenses could sharpen light from far away, allowing Galileo to see Jupiter's moons, it could also magnify objects right in the laboratory. The microscope was invented by several lens makers at around the same time in the late 1500s and the technology spread throughout Europe. In the 1660s, however, the use of microscopes for intense research grew explosively. Discovery after discovery began to lay the groundwork for modern biology. 

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Pokemon Go and Pathogens

by Erica Mitchell | July 27 2016

An inescapable phenomenon has infected our nation’s population. Within weeks of the first cases, it has spread to millions, leaving victims walking the streets like zombies, eyes glazed over, chasing what appear to be apparitions or hallucinations. On street corners after sunset they gather together in clusters, as-of-yet uninfected onlookers staring in curiosity – and barely concealed horror. What is this virulent pathogen that is ravaging our neighborhoods, our marriages, our workplaces? It’s Pokémon Go.

This phone-based game that has broken records for downloads, profits, and active users happens to be a fascinating analog to the way humans and microorganisms live together. Come along with us as we explore how Pokémon and pathogens meet.

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