Infection Control Today - 11/2001: Microbe of the Month

Holy Hemagluttination! What's a virus need to do to get some respect? Seems like only chickens worry much about me, yet I'm a serious troublemaker every winter, and a very, VERY bad boy every 10 to 20 years--1918 and '19 were especially good years for me. I wiped out the Germans at the Marne and, oh yeah, caused around 40 million global fatalities. They called that one a "pandemic" (not a colo-rectal reference), and guess what? A lot of smart serio-types think I've got what it takes to do it again. I am a cagey one, drifting and shifting, doing the achy-breaky each fall. Actually, with only one change of my 10 jeans, I can switch from annoying to deadly in a bird minute. Just ask any chicken in Hong Kong if you don't believe me. And here's the best news (at least, for my alphabetical family): you can't eradicate me! That's 'cause I bag Platinum status on AAA (Aquatic Avian Air), and reserve space with your close fowl associates (think bacon, Peking duck, gobble-gobble). Oh sure, you can slow me down with the vaccine thing (psst, here's a hint: this is a mindful gig for your elderly and compromised) but you can't keep a good orthomyxo-mama down. Get a grippe 'cause I'll see you very soon...but first, name my most "Excellent" self, and my "Good" and "Average" family members.

Roger P. Freeman, DDS, is a dental infection control consultant and president of Infectious Awareables, Inc., an infection control promotional company,

E-mail your answers 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 October: Malaria