Infection Control Today - 11/2002: Microbe of the Month

Microbe of the Month
By Roger P. Freeman, DDS

I am sooo NOT like your other MOMs. First of all, I'm a patriotic sort and just can't resist a man in uniform. No, I'm not one of those bump and run, trashy serotypes, even though I did make my rep ... ahem ... in hotel rooms with the convention crowd. Bicentennial Philadelphia cradled my legend, although hindsight later shed light on my '47 and '57 floats of fancy.

I drove the contagion cowboys nuts -- a mysterious outbreak, six months of percolating before my formal naming. Like a lot of kids today, I didn't test well. Stayed well hidden (just going through a 'phage'), so none of the standard stuff revealed my innermost self. The only thread of evidence evaporated down to a building! But I sure impressed a lot of the cap-set with fever, chills and muscle aches. For the unfortunate, I did some delirium, progressing to pneumonia delecti and ultimately, the stat column. I had the media so frenzied, they pushed Ebola right off the rag sheets. After all, Ebola was "over there;" I was in Philadelphia, Martha!

Since that time, I've become a world traveler, mostly as a result of y'alls changing environment and behaviors. Along with my pals, Lyme and HIV, I put the "E" in emergent, a real original. And how about that "A" in aerobiological engineering? (What is that, anyway?). I do tend to float around in aerosol communicado, preferring A/C cooling towers, spas, whirlpools, humidifiers and the like. And I'm a genuine nosocomial nuisance, don'tcha know.

I'm also pretty fastidious, if I do say so myself. Like most of you, I have needs: good grub (amoebae), moist milieu (can you "Play Misty for Me"), and of course, my favorite triple S, 3-diamond amenities: scum, sludge and stagnation.

I'm not known as a "lung lover" for nothing. I do my real damage deep in the alveolar alleys, getting most serious with the immune-compromised, heavy smokers and the otherwise lungerly challenged. Diag is no slam dunk, either, 'cause I'm most often what you get, not what you see! My soulmate is a milder form of illness, ingeniously named after your old Grand Am.

For an aerobiological gift-pack of used shower nozzles, faucets and veggie misters, name my gram neg bacterial self, and my common usage stage name. And then, everyone into the hot tub!

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

E-mail your answers to, including your name, title and the name and location 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 from Infectious Awareables and Glo Germ Company. The answers to last month's mystery microbe are Ebola and USAMRIID. For archived Microbe of the Month columns, log on to:

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