Infection Control Today - 01/2003: Microbe of the Month

Microbe of the Month
By Roger P. Freeman, DDS

And just when you thought your 'skeeter problems were over ... it goes to show, some of us old, boring vector-models can still gorge with the best of those trendy new emergent types. Got my first break in '37 (fond-a Uganda), traveled extensively though Africa, Asia and the near East. Appears like my U.S. licensee is a close cousin of them '98 Israeli geese I goosed.

Loved the summer of 1999 in NYC, my maiden voyage to the Western Hem. I did manage to "impress" 45 unsuspecting cases, seven of them permanently. I'm a Flaviviral vagabond, usually leaving febrile/flu-like clues along with the usual algias, my- and arthr-. But I can roar on occasion, crossing the BBB (blood/brain barrier, what else?) and racking up, big-time, on the meningo-meter.

I'm fond of avifauna, (think: feathers), but I take to equines on occasion. I come to you courtesy of your tiny friends at Culex Air, the mosquito-made-for-mayhem. The little buzzers typically put the feed-bag on my infected birdie friends, then turn around and inject me into the nearest exposed people-dermis.

Actually, I'm a work in progress; looks like I can commute by organ transplant, breast milk and maybe even the sexual bump and run. New Yorkers "abated" me (imagine, calling me a "nuisance") through some very cool detective work and trans-agency coordination, not likely to happen in some of the other 40-plus states in which I've set up shop. Thirty-five hundred cases in 2002 so far, with 187 decedents. In case you're wondering, being a decedent does not mean you inherit something.

Keeping me contained is going to be a challenge to your PH folks. You'll need to curtail my lifestyle some: eliminate standing pools of water, spray with "adulticides" (that can't be pleasant), fumigate clothes and exposed parts with DEET, minimize outside exposure during dawn, dusk and early evening hours. Don't you just love the outdoors?

You'd be optimistic to think I'm the last pestilence to cross the pond, so you might as well make me a part of your learning curve. For a jug of N,N-diethyl-metatoluamide, a copy of my new CD, "Living Large with Larvae," or a really nice, non-aerosol gift, name me and the condition I typically cause.

Roger P. Freeman, DDS, is a dental infection control consultant and president of Infectious Awareables, at

The answers to last month's mystery microbe are Aspergillis and mold. For archived Microbe of the Month columns, log on to:

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