Infection Control Today - 04/2002: Microbe of the Month

Microbe of the Month
By Roger P. Freeman, DDS

I'm 100 times more infectious than HIV! I guess I'm gonna have to lodge a complaint with the IOC. In the pantheon of pathogens, my sibs and I are surely medal meddlers, dudes. Alas, you'd never know it by my PR. Maybe we need to do lunch. Better yet, maybe we'll be in lunch.

We're a pedigreed viral family, newly named but anciently active while new mates are coming on board all the time. Our names are pre-school simple; looks like we're gobbling up the alphabet. Pity poor Charlie's identity crisis ... how'd you like to be called non-Smith, non-Jones for most of your life? He's getting even now!

We work our mischief in the hostel hepatica, a couple of us working fast, hot and up front, the rest preferring to cavort chronically. Sometimes you might spot a tawny tint, but not as often as you might suspect. Speaking of rainbow coalitions, how about clay-colored stools, tea-colored urine ... a technicolor dreamcoat, if ever!

Breaking and entering is a cinch for us, each working in our own wondrous way. A-cute goes for the traditionally repulsive f-o approach; N-here, N-there started out transfusing, now prefers the pointy pathway, sharer's thereof; Br'er 4 doesn't go anywhere without me, moi preferring the b-stream route, or "loving" but unprotected situs. The other guys work with water, blood, detritus. You name it ... we've got it covered.

Get a drop of me in your circ de soleil, odds are 1 in 3 you're mine, with 6 percent probably carrying for life. A quarter of the 6'ers won't make it. I "share" myself with 1-in-20 Americans, and especially like the 20-49 demos. Hail the halls of IV. The college crowd scarcely knows I'm around, much less that there's a safe, effective re-combo vaccine. Maybe if we tell 'em about Mr. (H)Big, they'd show some interest. Of course, that's not going to help 'em when Charlie -- the leading cause celebre for transplants -- has his way, now, or much, much later.

We were born to be bad. Tell lots of friends. For an Enron-vested 401(k) or a nice gift, whichever is worth more, name me and my seven-ingredient contagious cassoulet!

Roger P. Freeman, DDS, is an dental infection control consultant and president of Infectious Awareables, at Scientific images are courtesy of Infectious Awareables Inc.

E-mail your answers to, including your name, title and the name of your healthcare facility. The names of the first 25 readers supplying the correct answer will be placed in a quarterly drawing for infection control-related prizes. The next drawing will take place in May 2002 and the winners' names published in the June 2002 issue. The answers to last month's mystery microbe are: Poliovirus, Poliomyelitis, Salk and Sabin.

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