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Karen Blum

Karen Blum

Karen Blum, a writer in the Baltimore area, has been covering health and science for 20+ years. Her work has been published in daily newspapers including The Baltimore Sun and The Palm Beach Post; national news websites like msn.com and WebMD.com; and magazines and news services for health professionals including Anesthesiology News, Pharmacy Practice News, Internal Medicine News, and MedPageToday.com.

To best understand the potential of microbes in the gut to affect human health, clinicians need to look not just at the bacteria present in fecal samples but also at metabolites like amino acids that those bacteria produce.

WASHINGTON, DC – November 16, 2016 – Automated teller machine keypads in New York City have plenty of microbes but they’re mostly from normal human skin, household surfaces or traces of food, according to a study published this week in mSphere, an open access journal from the American Society for Microbiology.

Researchers found several identical bacterial strains in the microbiomes of both infants and their mothers that were distinct from those found in other infants or mothers, a sign of vertical transmission.

Researchers in Italy have combined laboratory and novel computational techniques to systematically track the vertical transmission of microbes in a pilot study.

In a study published this week in mSphere researchers investigated ATM keypads across the city.The researchers did find plenty of microbes – mostly from normal human skin, household surfaces or traces of food – but no particular clustering by geography.

Bacillus anthracis had been studied by multiple countries as a potential biological weapon because of the stability of its spores and its ability to cause acute pulmonary disease. While offensive anthrax weapons development programs were halted in the United States and United Kingdom in the 1960s, they continued covertly in the former Soviet Union for at least another 20 years. The Russian research included projects to genetically modify the organism to be antibiotic-resistant and to introduce novel virulence genes that defeated vaccines.

Although there has been some movement toward more judicious use of antibiotics, there are still people who take the drugs thinking it will help the common cold, and dentists who regularly prescribe antibiotics for patients prior to some common oral surgeries like third molar extraction.

Klebsiella pneumoniae estimated to be the third most common cause of hospital-acquired infections in the United States in a recent study, can cause a wide range of infections such as pneumonia, bacteremia, wound or surgical site infections and urinary tract infections. What’s more, K. pneumoniae is rapidly becoming resistant to all known antibiotics; resistant forms are considered an urgent threat to public health by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What scientists have known about the organism is that it secretes small molecules called siderophores that enable it to acquire iron from a host and fuel its spread. Siderophores are thought to worsen infection by promoting bacterial growth. But a new study in mBio this week demonstrates that siderophores do even more to help Klebsiella invade.  

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