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Germs & MRSA

Date: 10-17-07
Host: George Noory
Guests: Jessica Snyder Sachs

Appearing during the first half of the program, science writer/editor Jessica Snyder Sachs discussed her study of the frightening world of drug resistant bacteria, such as MRSA. Yet, she also pointed out that humans and bacteria have a symbiotic relationship, and that many bacteria serve a healthy function, such as aiding in digestion. Products such as yogurt and probiotic supplements can provide healthy bacteria, which may help to strengthen the immune system, she said.

About one third of people carry the staph virus at one any time, generally without harm, she reported. But now virulent strains that are resistant to antibiotics are becoming more common. Sachs relayed the story of Ricky Lanetti, a 21-year old athlete, who contracted MRSA (probably in the locker room) around the same time he came down with the flu. The virulent bacteria, mixed with the conditions of the flu, created the "perfect storm" for pneumonia, and he quickly sickened and died.

People should be careful when using shared quarters at places such as the gym, putting down a towel on exercise equipment before sitting on it, for instance. But being germophobic isn't necessarily helpful, said Sachs, who noted that the usage of antibiotic soaps is adding to the drug resistance problem.

The latter half of the show featured Open Lines.

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