My roommate is colonized with MRSA. How contagious is he, and what should I do to ensure that I do not get it?

The good news is that your risk of getting a MRSA infection due to living with a MRSA carrier is not high. It’s not zero, either, but it’s not high. The bad news is that we really don’t know how MRSA is transmitted within households, and thus we don’t know how to prevent it. The Read More …

Staph aureus and the neighborhood watch

Of all the bad bugs, S. aureus – Staph – is accounted among the worst. Several hundred thousand Americans suffer severe Staph infections every year and 30,000 die. If any bacterium deserves to be classified as a pest and a killer, a microbial reprobate beyond redemption, it is surely the grape-clustered golden spheres of Staphylococcus aureus. But few bugs Read More …

Are there visual differences between the cells of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and methicillin-susceptible S. aureus?

If only. Not only can resistant S. aureus (MRSA) not be distinguished from susceptible (MSSA) strains under the microscope, they can’t even be distinguished from other, far less pathogenic species of Staphylococcus, such as S. epidermidis or S. hemolyticus. S. epidermidis Gram stain S. aureus Gram stain Both would be reported by a clinical lab Read More …

Will the Anglo-Saxon “Bald’s Salve” remedy see wider use in addressing superbugs?

Nature is full of antimicrobial compounds. Indeed, most of the antibiotics we use today are derived from secondary metabolites secreted by soil bacteria and fungi. Plants also synthesize antimicrobial compounds as a way of defending themselves against infections. Alliums (which include garlic and onions) in particular are known to produce antimicrobial compounds[1] , and have Read More …

Am I breathing in germs if I’m smelling the garbage in my kitchen garbage can?

The number of cultivatable bacteria in a typical office environment is about 100 per cubic meter, somewhat lower than outdoor levels: From Concentrations of airborne culturable bacteria in 100 large US office buildings from the BASE study Hospitals show higher levels of cultivatable airborne bacteria, around 720 per cubic meter[1] . But if you really Read More …