Blog Archive - November 2007
November 15, 2007
A front-page story in today's newspaper is not good news. Headline: "STD's on the rise in US." CDC reports one million cases of Chlamydia in the USA last year - that breaks the record for the most cases of a sexually-transmitted disease ever reported.
In 2004 the rate of gonorrhea fell to the lowest level since tracking of STD statistics began in 1941. But since then the number of cases has increased significantly and to add to the problem/challenge of gonorrhea, this nanobug has developed resistance to more antibiotics. And in case you were unaware - syphilis has been making a comeback in America. Too many people think that syphilis is just a problem of WWI and WWII veterans- not the case! When we created the nanobug for syphilis - Treponema pallidum - we gave it the look or "attitude" of a rock singer so that teens can relate to the character and learn that this microbe is not a thing of the past - but it is here and now. About 18 months ago I read an article in USA TODAY about websites and online information about sexually-transmitted diseases. A survey found that about 50% of the information provided on line was inaccurate. And these websites get lots of hits (validating the need for education). The most common question asked was, "what should I do about this sore on my penis?" That is really scary! If the sore is caused by Herpes Simplex virus - it will be very painful and sensitive and will probably cause the boy/man to seek medical attention and also to avoid sex during most of the infective period. HOWEVER, if the sore is a painless lesion as with syphilis, the man/boy will probably not seek medical attention and may not avoid sex (unless the woman is observant and discriminating about her partners). The painless chancre (sore) of syphilis will eventually go away on its own BUT it only retreats to cause second stage or third stage syphilis -eventually making the person mentally incapacitated. The quote for this nanobug is: "I'll eat your brain and drive you insane". Education is essential for the prevention of sexually-transmitted infections. Barb Bancroft - a popular national speaker on the topic of sexually-transmitted infections - and I have developed the nanobugs sexually-transmitted infection prevention program. We think that with the help of the nanobugs, we can ease some of the social pressure in the classroom related to this topic. Teachers have a tough assignment with this topic. The goal is to educate and hopefully this will knowledge will result in behavioral change or appropriate behavioral responses when the teen is faced with related situations and challenges.
The nanobugs, with their "attitude", address the realities of sexual activity. At the completion of the course/class, the students are given STI nanobugs temporary tattoos reinforcing the point: You may be wearing a tattoo today for fun but real life isn't that simple - on the weekend your boyfriend or girlfriend won't be wearing a tattoo to alert you to their infectivity with a nanobug. You need to have a plan - to screen your partner for signs of STI's if you choose to have sex with them - and look at their genitals. I hope that the nanobugs can even serve as a valid reason for teens to NOT have sex. (unmarried adults, too) Our STI tee shirts say, "STI Nanobugs - don't even go there"
November 12, 2007
Last night I watched a segment on 60 Minutes about MRSA in schools and associated with athletics. I found the content to be accurate and informative. There was an appropriate emphasis on personal hygiene which is the main point with prevention of MRSA infection. But just saying, "wash your hands" and "practice good personal hygiene" doesn't translate into compliance or competency. There are some underlying issues that could be debated as we all try to "practice good personal hygiene". So.... which is better: a bath or a shower? Most of us have a preference based upon family practices, schedules and routines when we were growing up and current available plumbing resources. My opinions are based upon principles of infection prevention and personal logic and reasoning. There are pro's and con's of each:
pro the bathing experience reduces stress due to the relaxation effect of hydrotherapy
con requires large volume of water
con even though the concentration is generally small, bath water becomes contaminated with soap, chemicals and nanobugs. Generally, this is not a problem except when women take long baths and the contaminated water backs up into the urethra causing irritation and infection (especially in young girls). Bubble baths and other bath additives increase the risk.
pro the downward force of the water in the showers allows the soap and the most of the nanobugs to be washed off of the skin and sent down the drain
pro the stimulation of the streams of water on the body during the shower experience are invigorating and can wake you up
con the floor of a shower can easily harbor nanobugs like the fungus and can causes Tinea pedis or "athletes' foot'
con can spoil a hairdo with the steam and splash and splatter of the shower experience
Actually, the Japanese have the best system for bathing that accomplishes all the advantages of both. The Japanese bathtub is small but deep. The procedure/experience begins with a washing of the body while you are sitting or standing in the tub. The drain is left open and a hand-held sprayer is used to thoroughly rinse the soap and nanobugs off the skin and down the drain. Then the drain is plugged and the tub is filled with warm water to shoulder level. Then you relax in the clear water for as long as time permits.
The next debate is when to cleanse the body - in the morning upon rising -capitalizing on the stimulation of the shower method or at the end of the day with the relaxation benefit of a tub baths before sleeping. I encourage parents of school-age children to bathe the children daily before they go to bed so that all the nanobugs they have collected on their body during the school day don't get to "sleep over".
November 5, 2007
I am sure you have heard of the 5 second rule - or maybe you call it the 10-second rule or the "less time than it takes the dog to discover the item on the floor rule". Wikipedia describes the five-second rule as a popular urban legend regarding the eating of food that has been dropped on the ground - it may be eaten as long as it is picked up within 5 seconds.
The problem I have with this "rule" is that it focuses only on time. Contamination is not usually measured by time but rather, by other variables and/or a combination of variables, like - How dirty was the floor? or the bioload on that surface? Is the floor contaminated with foodborne pathogens or just soil and cat hair? Was the floor wet or dry? Was the food item wet, dry or sticky?
Sam Lehman has a cute video on YouTube that makes my point in a gross way. He shows 2 scenarios - usual case and worse case. There is no need for narration in this short video - everyone "gets it".
In epidemiology, the contribution of "exposure time" is considered but it is not a a major contributor to contamination outside of the hospital operating room. And the nanobugs certainly do not acknowledge the 5-second rule or the 10- second rule. If there is a reservoir of nanobugs on the floor, and you drop a piece of sticky bologna there, the bologna is surely contaminated and would not be considered "safe to eat". There are several additional determinants that can contribute to infection transmission- whether you get sick from ingesting the contaminated food item. You can read about several "studies" done by college students testing this 5-second rule or see on the Discovery channel (MythBusters). But the best thing is to stick to the basic rules for prevention of foodborne illness: keep the kitchen floor clean, keep food off the floor or other contaminated surfaces, and wash fruits and vegetables brought in from the garden. Put the stopwatch away and remember the nanobugs can be lurking all over the floor and the ground. - they ain't picky!
November 2, 2007
Here we go again! E. coli O157:H7 is suspected of being a contaminant in/on possibly 5 million pizzas with the Totini's or Jeno's label that contain pepperoni. Nothing is confirmed yet but a recall has been issued and an investigation is underway after 21 people have reported illness and 8 were hospitalized. Check your freezer and if you have any of the recalled pizzas - dispose of them and save the barcode to send in to the company for a refund. If you have already had diarrhea and stomach cramps occurring 2 - 5 days after ingestion of pepperoni pizza - contact your local health department.
These recalls of food products with suspected contamination with the foodborne nanobugs are popping up about one a month - we can't ignore them. I am a little mystified about the pepperoni harboring E. coli O157:H7 -it is not the usual culprit - more likely a ground beef topping. Guess we will find out after the investigation is complete. But quite honestly, it is hard to keep tract of the final outcomes of these investigations - there are so many.
November 1, 2007
What a great Halloween last night! The weather in Lincoln, Nebraska was perfect; the children (and teens) were dressed appropriately and poised with bags the size of lawn leaf bags - to collect enough candy to supply an orphanage in China!! My doorbell was ringing solid from 7 PM to 9 PM. No candy here - the treats were nanobugs cards and a temporary tattoo. I was initially a bit worried that some disenchanted trick-or-treaters who were set on collecting candy and received a nanobugs tattoo instead, might "egg" my house in protest. However, the response of toddlers to teens was so positive! One 12- year-old (?) boy responded with, "Thanks. YOU ROCK!" - that's probably the highest compliment that could be paid to a middle-aged "provider of treats" on Halloween. My overall assessment of the nearly 100 cute and scary people on my front porch last night was that they were polite, grateful, creative and full of fun....and of the same spirit in which the nanobugs were created.
Adrian Olivera, a member of the TeamFire cycling club which nanobugs sponsors, carved one of his pumpkins into a glowing advertisement for nanobugs. He sent us a photo of this unique Jack-O-Lantern last night via email. That was MY treat for Halloween along with seeing my grandchildren dressed for the occasion.