Wash Your Hands at the Hospital or Doctor’s Office to Avoid Bringing Nasty Germs Home

Encouraging doctors and nurses to wash their hands frequently has always been considered an effective way to curb the spread of infection in hospitals and other health facilities.

But a research letter published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine points to another key group of people who aren’t always keeping their hands so clean and probably should: patients.

Source: Patients Leave the Hospital with Superbugs on Their Hands

Bring hand sanitizer with you and use it when you leave the office, get off the elevator, leave the building and one last time when you’re safely in your car. You are touching thousands of sick people each step of the way.

If you don’t have to touch things in a hospital or doctors office, don’t.  Magazines are probably the worst things to handle – your phone or tablet is a safer option.

To a certain extent you need exposure to everyday germs to stay healthy, but not at that level.

This Genetic Alteration Could Prevent the Next Potato Famine

Unlike humans, plants only react to infections when they sustain specific kinds of damage. Now we know that the solution is to get them to produce special “decoy” proteins that can be damaged, in order to get the plant to spring into action.

Source: This Genetic Alteration Could Prevent the Next Potato Famine

But could anything grown with this in the genome be sold in the EU?

This is a GMO. Kudos to the folks who came up with and implemented this idea.

Cancer-Killing Viruses Have Finally Arrived

Viruses normally seem like evil little germs; they often invade our bodies’ cells and hijack their inner machinery to mass produce viral invaders, which eventually destroy their host cells as they bust out to besiege more cells. The process repeats ad nauseam. But what if that wicked master plan could be twisted to do our bidding? What if viruses only invaded cells we wanted them to kill—like cancer cells?

…the Food and Drug Administration approved the first viral-based cancer therapy.

Source: Cancer-killing viruses have finally arrived

There’s some interesting combination therapies in the works for a variety of different tumor sites that are suggesting substantially improved response rates compared to using just one of the therapies alone. Expect to see initial read outs of these new trials in the next 2 years or so.

Chunder-bot Used to Confirm How Viruses Spread

Norovirus is famed for sending cruise ships scurrying back to port to unload hordes of violently ill passengers. Aside from its brutal symptoms—vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, and a general sense that death would be a fine option—the virus is famed for how easily it spreads. It has generally been assumed that the vomiting portion of the symptoms scatters small particles of liquid that carry the virus to new surfaces.

Source: Chunder-bot used to confirm how viruses spread

They built a vomiting simulator…

What Extraordinarily Weird Things Are Locked Up in Your Junk DNA?

We know that we don’t “use” a lot of the genes inside our cells, but our DNA is strung with relics. But what are those relics, and what if they come back to haunt us? Here’s what you’re carrying around, and why it’s not as irrevocably part of the past as you think it is.

Source: What Extraordinarily Weird Things Are Locked Up in Your Junk DNA?

It’s all fun and games until you can wag your vestigial tail…

A $25 Blood Test Could Detect Every Virus That’s Ever Infected You

You’ll probably remember the last time you had the flu, but what about that time you had measles – or was it chicken pox? Your blood knows: it keeps a record of every virus you’ve ever been infected with. A tiny drop of the stuff can now be tested to reveal a person’s viral history.

The test, called VirScan, reveals that adults around the world tend to have been infected by an average of 10 viruses over their lifetime. It could also be used to identify links between viral infections and mysterious diseases like chronic fatigue syndrome.

Source: Cheap blood test reveals every virus you’ve ever been exposed to

The article goes on to largely dismiss the use of the test, as the immune response takes time to build up the antibodies necessary to register an indication of infection.  And points out that we have established symptoms…

Engineered Virus Protects Bacteria While Eliminating Antibiotic Resistance

Editing the sequence of bases in a DNA molecule is pretty straightforward in a test tube. Until recently, editing the DNA of a living organism had been a very large challenge, one that was more often avoided than taken up. But a system bacteria use to defeat viruses has been repurposed to make a versatile DNA editing system.

Source: Engineered virus protects bacteria while eliminating antibiotic resistance

That’s pretty crazy. But when can I have my own baby triceratops?

How Viruses Hide Inside Your Eyeballs, Even When You’re No Longer Sick

Last week brought the horrifying news that the Ebola virus can live in the eyeballs of survivors, even after it’s been eliminated from the rest of the body. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, though. Viruses have always hidden in parts of our bodies you’d never expect. In fact, we’re all walking virus reservoirs.

Source: How Viruses Hide Inside Your Eyeballs, Even When You’re No Longer Sick

There are also shingles vaccines you can get when you’re older, so please get those, folks. Shingles can be really bad — it can even give you temporary blindness.

I had a co-worker come down with shingles – I’d never heard of it before that, but my boss had.  My boss was certain the co-worker would not come back and they were ultimately correct.

You’re More Likely To Have Leprosy Than You Know (And That’s Okay)

For the hypochondriac in all of us! 😉

Leprosy is not a disease of the past. Nor is it particularly rare. It’s one of the many diseases we get without ever knowing we have them . . . most of the time.

Source: You’re More Likely To Have Leprosy Than You Know (And That’s Okay)

The article focuses on various catchy/alarming viruses.  It mentions but largely dances around being an asymptomatic carrier.  A la Typhoid Mary, the most notorious case of an asymptomatic carrier.  Her story is rather sad – she continued to get jobs in kitchens because it paid better than other options.

How a Virus Can Make Water Boil Faster

Scientists have found a way to boil water faster, although they admit the discovery is unlikely to revolutionise tea-making.

The technology works by coating a heating element with a virus found on tobacco plants. The coating dramatically reduces the size and number of bubbles that form around the element as it gets warmer. Air pockets caused by bubbles temporarily insulate heating elements from the surrounding water, slowing down the transfer of heat.

Source: Discovery uses virus to boil water three times faster

I thought this was for cooking applications, considering though that salting the water does not do anything remotely meaningful to water.  It’s not applicable to household use, but anything serving a decent amount of people could see benefit – restaurant, soup kitchen…

The technology aspect is pretty big, but from the sounds of things it’s primarily benefit will be to server farms and such.  Sure, you’d get some enterprising water cooler setups but Intel chips have been engineered to run without a heatsink.  That’s not a recommended practice, and in my limited knowledge of CPUs – heat isn’t the issue so much as die size.  And that’s for an industry that’s largely stagnated in CPU speeds in almost 10 years?