In the United States, the CDC, EPA and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists maintain a national database known as the Waterborne Disease and Outbreak Surveillance System (WBDOSS) to track waterborne disease outbreaks (WBDOs).
“I must have come down with the stomach flu.” How many times have we heard that line used to describe a set of symptoms that include vomiting, diarrhea, intestinal cramps and other gastrointestinal ailments? In reality, there is no such thing as a stomach flu. Flu, or influenza, is a seasonal respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses.
As of October 3, 2011, at least 100 people have been sickened and 18 have died from an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes associated with cantaloupes from Jensen Farms, Colorado. The grower has voluntarily recalled the produce, and the CDC and other agencies have issued bulletins to alert the public of this potential health hazard.
Legionella are a group of Gram negative bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, a type of pneumonia. Legionella bacteria are found naturally in aquatic environments, preferring warm conditions. They are frequently isolated from cooling towers, hot water tanks, hot tubs and plumbing systems.
Can bacteria be seen with the naked eye? Has anyone ever seen a virus? These a just a couple of the questions I have been asked over the years regarding the size of microorganisms. The spectrum of microorganisms includes a wide range of organisms that are too small to be seen with the naked eye.
This week, I was asked about the types of organisms that are indicative of sewage contamination. The questions concerned a possible sewage spill, and the individual was interested in testing soil for sewage-related organisms.
BacteriaThe U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates the number of life-threatening infections from Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria at 94,000 per year. This figure is more than double the number from five years earlier. The number of MRSA-related deaths in the U.S. is approximately 18,000 per year, which now exceeds the number for HIV/AIDS.
Recently, one of the most talked-about areas of microbiology concerns the establishment and activity of microbial biofilms. A biofilm is a collection of microorganisms contained in an extracellular matrix of proteins and polysaccharides (basically, slimy substances) that adheres to a surface, creating a protected environment for the organisms.
The explosion of the British Petroleum (BP) oil rig, Deepwater Horizon, followed by the subsequent spill of copious amounts of oil into the Gulf of Mexico has created an unprecedented environmental disaster.