Infection Control Today - 08/2002: Microbe of the Month

OK,OK ... time to get real! Give a break to your boss, the job, the latestoutbreak, the Martian, the kids, the money and all those other annoying"lifestyle factors." Blame the baggage for those bellyaches if itmakes you feel better, but remember the real show doesn't start without me.I'm a spiral-shaped, skinny-legged bacterium, tethering my tendrils in 30percent of you homies and just about everyone else on the planet. I call yourgastric gazebo "home," scoring a perfect 10 with my corkscrew diveinto the high-security muco-hood covering the lining of your food bin. I stayprotected from the seriously unpleasant enzymes and HCls used to digest Mom'smeatloaf. Once in residence, I attract trendy white cells, neutrofils, killer Tsand all sorts of inflammatory riff-raff. Together, we work our mischief instill-mysterious ways, but you'll surely know my work by the g-nawing pain,g-bloating, g-burping and g-heartburn, not to mention a mortifying case of"early satiety." Oh, you're gonna love me!

I'm a newbie in the micro monde. No peer recognition until 1982, though it'sa good bet my relatives peptized the pharaohs and friends. In any case, I wassure a hard-sell to your gastrogeeks; poor Dr. Marshall had to self-infect inorder to get me elected. It's a tough way to make a living.

I travel in the ever-popular and revolting f-o mode, but the infect-o-meteris pointing lately toward lipleaps as another possibility. Seems you can't countme out of dental plaque, either. Yummo! It's not easy to test for me, unless ofcourse, friends and neighbors start calling you urea-breath. This would be asign. Endoscopy with biopsy (don't try this at home) is most reliable; bloodtests are often inconclusive, tending to give false pozzies.

To decrease the dolor, the palliative posse recommends bland foods, chalkslurpees and bizmuth bon bons. The homeopaths have a thing for yogurt.Bleeccchhh! NSAIDS are music to my flagella, and if you double-team me withaspirin, and I will really show you the love! Tip from the top: use awell-chosen anti-micro mercenary that'll hopefully work before the serioussequellae appear.

For a pepperoni giftpak, or a really nice gift, whichever reminds you leastof me, name me and my peppy boo-boos.

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

E-mail your answers to,including your name, title and the name and location of your healthcarefacility. The names of the first 25 readers supplying the correct answer will beplaced in a quarterly drawing for infection control-related prizes fromInfectious Awareables and Glo Germ Company. The answers to last month's mysterymicrobe are E. coli and 0157:H7. For archived Microbe of the Month columns, logon to: