Blood-Borne Pathogens

While there are multiple pathogenic organisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other more exotic organisms such as prions, that could potentially be transmitted from an infected person to uninfected people through blood contact, the term Blood-Borne Pathogens is most commonly used to refer to the “Big 3,” by which is meant Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), recognized by all reputable medical authorities, as the virus that causes the disease known as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Controlling the potential spread of these infections due to the contamination of environmental surfaces with blood or other body fluids that can transmit the infections, through the thorough and complete destruction of the causative viruses is one of the backbones of effective infection control in institutions as well as in homes.BBP Continue reading

Ebola has been in the news a great deal lately, and that makes sense because it is always big news when this particularly scary virus makes an appearance. Yes, it can be deadly and many people in an isolated part of the world have contracted it. And yes, there is now a case contracted right here in the United States, but regardless of the hype, this infection remains VERY UNLIKELY to affect or infect most Americans. The risks are well known and all Westerners who have contracted the disease have worked directly with patients either in West Africa or in the United States/Europe. For the VAST MAJORITY of people, this is not something to be overly concerned about unless you travel and work in health care in Guinea, Sierra Leone, or Liberia, or unless you are a healthcare worker in the United States who is caring for an Ebola infected person. This amounts to very few Americans. The Ebola hysteria is mostly unjustified and the best thing most Americans could do about Ebola is relax and stop watching too much cable news!

But one good thing about Americans focusing on an infectious disease is that it provides an excellent reminder about bacteria and viruses that ACTUALLY ARE a real threat in the United States. There are several infections that cause serious illness and even death in hundreds, if not thousands of Americans every year but because these are not at the top of the news hour, people might not be paying as much attention as they should. Infections like MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus), Hepatitis C, and Influenza are all very real threats to many Americans, far more serious and real a threat than Ebola is ever likely to be in this country. But since we live where we do, we can take precautions against these much more likely killers through influenza vaccines and through careful and consistent disinfection and cleaning of shared surfaces and objects which might carry infections like influenza or MRSA.

A great thing to do if you are worried about Ebola is to refocus on these very real threats to your health and safety instead of the remote risk of Ebola. Then, once you think about and learn about these much more likely risks, take realistic steps to protect yourself with help from  An informed person is already one less likely to become ill from one of the real threats facing us in America today. Learn more, protect yourself and those you love, and rest easier knowing you are protected!


Candida is a very common genus of fungi which take on the form of yeast instead of mold. There are many species of Candida, probably about 20 or so, although it is possible more are yet to be discovered and described. C. albicans is probably the one species of yeast that is most likely to cause an infection in humans and it is actually pretty common, especially among some people. However, despite some of the hysteria you might encounter, especially on the Internet from Dr. Google and from some so-called holistic or homeopathic “medical” practitioners, Candida is usually not a significant problem for most people.Candida 1 Continue reading


Trichophyton is the fancy scientific name for a group of fungi that are very familiar to most people even if they don’t recognize the clinical name. Typical encounters with Trichophyton include, but are not necessarily limited to: athlete’s foot, jock itch, nail fungus, ringworm, and similar afflictions, all of which are quite common amongst people, even those who consider themselves quite clean, and in fact, their penchant for bathing may in fact be a part of the problem. Continue reading

The vaccinia virus was once very common in the United States and then for many years it became essentially unheard of. Now, the occurrence of vaccinia infection is increasing once again, although still rare, it is now known to occur primarily in the families and intimate contacts of members of the military and other emergency response personnel. Unlike most any other appearance of an infectious agent, vaccinia occurs only because it was, at some point and to at least some people, intentionally introduced, and that only because of political changes in the world today. The problematic infections are secondary ones among those never intended to be exposed, and those infections can be life-threatening among some individuals. Stumped? Vaccinia is closely related to one of the most dreaded viral killers in all of human history: smallpox.

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The respiratory syncytial virus, more easily known as RSV, is a very common virus that infects and sickens people, usually the very young and, as is increasingly recognized, also the elderly. Most infected people will not be able to distinguish RSV infection from the common cold, but in some cases, especially among premature infants, RSV infection and the resulting disease can be devastating, and even fatal. It is certainly an infection worth preventing, and fortunately, while a vaccine is pending, there are important steps you can take to protect the health of your family, especially the health of your baby.RSV 2

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Coronavirus refers to a relatively small group of viruses that were first identified in the 1960s from the respiratory tracts of humans.  Over the course of time, it was recognized that coronavirus infection is quite common in humans, as well as in some other animals, although those viruses do not always have the ability to infect humans.  In fact, infection with coronaviruses was found to be practically universal with most every person having been infected with at least one of the known coronaviruses, usually in childhood.  In most all cases the result was a common cold that resolved on its own in about a week, although in some very rare cases more serious complications developed although this was exclusively in people already suffering from other medical conditions.  The world view of coronaviruses changed dramatically in 2003 with the appearance of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and has continued to evolve with the 2012 recognition of Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), both of which are caused by novel variants of coronaviruses. Continue reading

As is often the case with microorganisms, and the diseases or infections they can cause, it is important to be specific in our language and our understanding to avoid making embarrassing, or even dangerous, errors in judgment and assumption. This can be particularly true in the case of the herpes viruses, which have a rather infamous reputation, which isn’t always warranted by the facts, although the infections that these viruses can cause do occasionally lead to severe disease, or worse. Thankfully, however, this is most often not the case and the reputation that these viruses carry is often worse than the reality for the vast majority of those exposed or infected. Continue reading

“Influenza” is a generic term that describes a large host of variant viruses that are closely related. These viruses are not differentiated, as bacteria are, by genus and species but rather through a complex naming process that first distinguishes between the three major types of influenza viruses, either A, B, or C, and then the differentiation continues through the identification of proteins on the surface of the virus, which is denoted by the use of the letters H and N followed by a number. In epidemiology, descriptions continue to include the host species (i.e. human, avian, swine, equine, or canine), geographic information regarding where first isolated, and the year of isolation. These details mean little, in most cases, to the general public and usually do not convey meaningful information about prevention.Flu 3

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Vibrio is a genus of bacteria that includes several species that are important causes of human disease. The most infamous of these diseases is caused by Vibrio cholerae, which causes cholera. Other significant species causing illness in humans are Vibrio vulnificus and Vibrio parahaemolyticus. Globally, these infections sicken many people and are sometimes fatal.Vibrio 1

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