Infection Control Today - 09/2002: Microbe of the Month

Gazoontite!Der scnozzle drippen ze grossen. OK, so I'm common. Talk about your pathogenprofiling! I also happen to be the most studied bug in bugdom and about the onlyvirus that's on the job, year 'round, worldwide ... a solid epidemic ethic.Remember that when your throat is scratchy, eyes are watering, head is pounding,nose is Rudolph red and you're launching aerial scuds toward your nearest anddearest. Not to mention the outpouring of -- no, not sympathy -- let's just callit "sub nares discharge of an olfactory kind." (Your kids would callit something else, probably not rhinorrhea.)

I'm strictly a humanitarian, one of 100-plus viral cousins known to cause mycommon-ness. A billion cases every year; $5 billion in o/c drugs; 22 millionlost school days; 50 million days of "reduced activity," and these arejust U.S. stats. Imagine my big picture numbers! I may not be front page inMortality News, but I'm huge on the morbidity circuit. I get around via aerialah-choo-choo, direct ickos and sometimes on that keyboard, telephone orPlayskool set. I'm fond of the chronologically challenged, epecially the lessthan fives.

I hang (so to speak) just north of the epiglottis, frequently taking RouteSicksty-Sicks from eyeballs to lacrimal duct to nasal passage, where I generatethe highest concentration of PIM (especially that cute little schlumpen dernosen.) Grandma would like you to believe wearing your coat and galoshes, eatingyour veggies and exercising will spare you my gifts. Probably not, although somesay stress reduction may help. Stress in 5-year-olds?

Prevention? You know the drill, those old saws, handwashing and broken COT.Treatment? Load up on PDR pals for some relief; or ignore me if you can. Eitherway, I gotcha for a week to 10 days. Linus (the one with the PhD) believed apound or so of vitamin C daily would help the noseland security. Show me.

For lifetime immunity or a real nice gift, whichever you are closest toseeing in your lifetime, name me and my most common condition.

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 Heliobacter pylori and peptic ulcers. For archived Microbe of theMonth columns, log on to: