Germophobia story of the day: Newsweek and Marissa Rothkopf Bates on “Gadget Lust”

Well, just saw this: Gadget Lust: Keeping the Germs (and the Hypochondria) at Bay. I know this article is partly an attempt to be funny (which I think it succeeded at) but even so, the level of germophobia is pretty astonishing.  Actually, though I cringe at germophobia many of the things discussed in this article are perhaps not completely over the top on their own.  For exampe, the camelbak travel water filter seems potentially useful.  The trayguard for the airplane tray seems a but much but I guess I can see why someone might want one.  The phone sterilizer seems silly unless (1) you … Continue reading

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Sloan Microbiology of the Built Environment Data Analysis Workshop (secrets of QIIME, VAMPS and QIITA) January 6-7, 2015

  Announcement: Sloan Microbiology of the Built Environment Data Analysis Workshop (secrets of QIIME, VAMPS and QIITA) January 6-7, 2015 Application Deadline – October 30, 2014 Progress on the microbiology of the built environment, especially through amplicon studies, has been extremely rapid. However, analyzing and combining datasets has been increasingly challenging, especially as investigators use different strategies and techniques to collect their individual microbial and environmental datasets. This workshop, staffed by the developers of QIIME, VAMPS and QIITA, invite participants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Microbiology of the Built Environment Program or anyone working on related projects (i.e., studies of … Continue reading

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Germophobia story of the week: SpongeBath sponge cleaner system

Oh my.  This story is littlered with so much over the top germophobia I do not know where to begin: The Dirt on Your Sponge –  The story, by Penelope Green, discusses how Tod Maitland and Matthew Flannery have developed a sponge cleaning system called “SpongeBath”.  This is going on sale on Amazon and Bed Bath and Beyond in September.  Why is it needed?  Well, they assert “that your kitchen sponge, a smelly, disgusting bacteria magnet, is 200,000 times dirtier than your toilet seat. (This interview has been condensed and edited.)” That is a perfect quote for David Coil who wrote that … Continue reading

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Nice paper on Malassezia-like Fungi – commonly found in human skin – but also found in many other places

Nice new paper that may be of interest: PLOS Pathogens: From Dandruff to Deep-Sea Vents: Malassezia-like Fungi Are Ecologically Hyper-diverse by Anthony Amend. Malassezia are commonly found in many studies of human skin and when they have been found in other places sometimes it is thought that they are vagrants having come from the skin of humans or other animals.  And they are certainly found relatively commonly in buildings and other human occupied locales.  For example see: The Impact of Sampler Selection on Characterizing the Indoor Microbiome Recent Advances in the Microbiology of the Built Environment The Diversity and Distribution of Fungi on … Continue reading

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Reminder about Sloan post-doc RFP in microbiology of the built environment

Just a quick reminder here that the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation put out a call this summer for proposals from post-docs working on the microbiology of the built environment.  The proposals are due this Sunday, September 1st.   See our previous post with the details here. The very short description of the call: Research Area of Interest Applications most likely to be of interest should describe innovative fundamental research in the microbiology of the built environment, very broadly defined.

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Spinal Tap-The Fungal Meningitis Edition

For anyone looking for another reason to fear hospitals, nosocomial infections (hospital acquired infections), or spinal injections, here is a story for you. Contaminated spinal injections were given to patients in 20 states and led to 751 individuals developing fungal meningitis and 64 deaths. FDA and CDC officials conducted a preliminary investigation and discovered a a compounding center in Massachusetts was responsible for the outbreak. The compounding center recalled all of their products in September of 2012 when the cause of the outbreak was discovered. Four fungal and 16 bacterial contaminants were found in the recalled vials. Last Friday (8/22/14) researchers … Continue reading

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Nice summary of the Earth Microbiome Project by Gilbert et al.

If you have any interest in large scale microbial ecology – either to do it yourself or to make use of the results or to just watch it as it happens, you should read this paper: BMC Biology | Full text | The Earth Microbiome project: successes and aspirations.  It outlines the history and goals and some of the details behind a very audacious project – the Earth Microbiome Project.  When I first heard about this (at the Snowbird meeting referred to in the article) I thought it was a bit much and the authors even refer to a quote of … Continue reading

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A disturbing trend – casual and reckless use of antimicrobial agents in building materials.

There was a very interesting artilce in the New York Times on August 21 bu Michael Kimmelman: In Redesigned Room, Hospital Patients May Feel Better Already.  The article focuses on a move by the University Medical Center of Princeton to redesign hospital rooms.  And Kimmelman discusses a variety of issues associated with hospital design. And there were a few aspects of the re-design that relate specifically to microbes.  One makes a lot of sense to me – the positioning of a sink “in plain sight, so nurses and doctors will be sure to wash their hands, and patients can watch them do so”.  It … Continue reading

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Awesome science paper 1st lines example regarding microbes on the Archimedes Palimpsest

Just a quick post here.  Got alerted to this paper by Google Scholar updates: A Combined Approach to Assess the Microbial Contamination of the Archimedes Palimpsest.    And I was drawn into it immediately by the first line in the introduction The transmission of ancient texts through the ages appears to be an almost miraculous event from both the microbiological and cultural point of view. What a great first sentence.  And the rest of the paper does not disappoint.  Microbes on ancient texts are important for a variety of reasons – not the least of which relates to degradation of the … Continue reading

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