|Microbe of the Month
By Roger P. Freeman, DDS
DZZZZZZZZT! Thwop! Ah, the vector's life for me. A slap here, a bite there, half a billion infections per year... I'm a busy lady. You see, I carry around an age-old 'zoan with a thing for RBCs. This little dude is not one to mess with. It kills a mill every year, and infects up to 40% of the world's population. The felon's got a rap sheet a mile long: Toppling empires (DNA certifiable), threatening canals (as in Panama), and wreaking havoc in wars and natural disasters. My job is to air the single-cell squirt around, bite, gorge, and inject. Often called a "flying syringe," I inject my saliva with my pathogenic passenger into the bloodstream of my victim, where it eventually ends up popping blood cells and causing some really serious stuff. And if it doesn't kill the first time, here's the good news: I get to re-infect over and over again! They've been trying to kill me off with insecticides, but I'm good at swishing and spitting. Actually, DDT is like serious broccoli to me, but then, you'll have to live with its 100-year half-life. WHO (not a question) has developed a comprehensive rollback program (RBM), hoping to decrease by half my threat by 2010. It'll take a lot of global cooperation and money to do that, however, not to mention the problem of endemic apathy and lack of sizzle. My family name rhymes with "enuff-fleas," my bad buddy's handle means "crescent," and the disease he causes mistakenly translates to "bad air." Who are the three of us?
Roger P. Freeman, DDS, is a dental infection control consultant and president of Infectious Awareables, Inc., an infection control promotional company, at www.iawareables.com.
E-mail your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org. The names of the first 25 readers who supply the correct answer will be placed in a quarterly drawing for infection control-related prizes. Winners of the first quarter drawing will be announced in the February 2002 issue. Answer for September: Mycobacterium tuberculosis