One of the tools available to infection preventionists, hospital epidemiologists and healthcare practitioners is the antibiogram. While not all facilities or networks will have an up-to-date version of this report, they are becoming more common. What is an antibiogram and how can it be used? In simple terms, an antibiogram is a report that shows how susceptible strains of pathogens are to a variety of antibiotics.
A few years back, a team of international researchers successfully used gene editing to correct a heart defect in human embryos. This is the first successful use of the CRISPR/Cas9 technology to edit the human genome, and hints at a future where we can delete disease-causing genes from future generations. What most people hearing this astounding news might now know, however, is that the CRISPR technology is not man-made, per se - it's bacteria-made. Today's post will explore how the future of gene editing was brought to us by the humble prokaryote, the bacteria.
We live in a time of tremendous advancements in science and medicine. We can save premature babies, reattach severed limbs (how about heads?), and research looks promising to wipe out some pretty terrifying diseases. And yet even recently, humanity still believed some pretty crazy things about where diseases come from... and each of them share haunting similarities to some beliefs we encounter today.
We spend a lot of time here pointing out the dangers of bacteria. However, we're going to take a moment to reflect on all the wonderful and life-giving benefits of bacteria. These unseen organisms help us in so many ways, it would be safe to say we can't live without them. Join us as we explore the kinder side of bacteria.
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.
Are all hospital-acquired infections due to contaminated surfaces? It turns out that some infections - even those as the result of a procedure - are not due to contaminated surfaces, devices, or heath care workers. Sometimes a patient becomes infected by germs in their environment, but sometimes the infections stems from microorganisms in or on their own bodies. Today's post will explore both types of infections and the implications for hospital infection control.
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.
"Superbugs," or antibiotic-resistant bacteria, have been in the news a lot lately. These types of bacteria can cause infections that are very difficult to treat since they are not killed by conventional antibiotics. While most of them can be eradicated, it requires very powerful (and costly) antibiotics. And most terrifying, we play a role in creating these superbugs. To see how, we first need to understand how bacteria reproduce and how they adapt (and share that adaptation to their surrounding buddies).
Today is International Women's Day, a day set aside to explore and celebrate the contributions and achievements of women while also bringing visibility to issues of gender disparity that could still use improvement. In today's post, we will look at gender disparities in the medical field, with an emphasis on fields in infection control.
As summer approaches, so do opportunities to listen to podcasts! If you want to explore some of the topics we cover in this blog straight from the researchers, scientists and designers who are on the forefront of discovery, check out some of these highly-reviewed podcasts.