Leeuwenhoek had stolen and peeped into the fantastic sub-visible world of little things, creatures that had lived, had bred, had battled, had died, completely hidden from and unknown to all men from the beginning of time. Beasts these were of a kind that ravaged and annihilated whole races of men ten million times larger than they were themselves. Beings these were, more terrible than fire-spitting dragons or hydra-headed monsters. They were silent assassins that murdered babies in warm cradles and kings in sheltered places. It was this invisible, insignificant, but implacable-and sometimes friendly- world Leeuwenhoek had looked into for the first time of all men of all countries. ~Microbe Hunters

Wednesday, 29 May 2013


Soap is the most effective way to rid your hands of any disease-causing microorganisms. However, within 20 minutes of showering, your body is fully colonized with your normal flora. The normal flora is important to keep you healthy, not to mention essential in many metabolic activities inside your body. When you wash your hands before eating a meal, you are washing away any pathogenic (disease causing) bacteria, or bacteria that cause illnesses, as well as your normal flora. Although your normal flora will regrow to its normal state before you are done eating your sandwich, you will not get sick from the pathogenic ones you already washed off. 

Antimicrobial soap does the same thing: it rids your hands of the exact same bacteria. It has become more known that using antimicrobial soap is contributing to the antibiotic resistance in organisms, however, what many people don’t understand is how they can directly harm themselves or their family by purchasing and using antimicrobial household products (i.e. hand soap, tooth paste and deodorant).

Pseudomonas aeurginosa is a microorganism generally found in hot tubs, contact lens solutions, and contaminated medical devices. They have many mechanisms of resistance including multi-drug EFFLUX PUMPS. They are clinically resistant to penicillin, ampicillin, trimethoprime, sulfonamide, cephalosporin, chloramphenicol and some beta-lactams. That’s a long list. Pseudomonas can actually grow and thrive in antibacterial soaps, whereas other microorganisms cannot. In normal soap, other organisms may colonize the soap, which out-competes Pseudomonas, making it unable to grow. These other organisms are not (typically) harmful to our health.

The use of infected antimicrobial soap can replace the normal, harmless, microflora on your hands, with disease-causing, resistant microflora of Pseudomonas, especially if not completely rinsed off perfectly. It can cause bacteremia (blood infections), wound infections, pulmonary disease, UTIs and endocarditis. If you land yourself an infection with Pseudomonas, you will have to be admitted to the hospital for intravenous (IV) drugs. The multi-resistance of this organism leaves few antibiotics that can treat it. A combination of beta-lactams and aminoglycoside drugs are used to treat these infections. Pregnant women are not prescribed aminoglycosides because of known fetal birth defect including hearing loss and kidney problems, thus further limiting treatment, or putting the baby's development at risk.

Pseudomonas is very pretty in the lab, though. It produces pyocyanin which results in a blueish pigmentation, and also has a grape like smell.

I am happy to say that with this information, the next shipment of hand soaps my boss is ordering for the city's public washrooms, is general foaming hand cleanser, as opposed to antibacterial foaming hand cleanser. Baby steps. As people become aware, we can live in harmony with the microscopic world in which we live. 

Darn good and sure of it,


Monday, 27 May 2013

Summer School

I am taking an online Analytical Chemistry course through a University in Utah, called Weber State University. If you didn't know, Utah is in the USA. I am in Canada. Google maps tells me that we are 3374 km and a border crossing apart, but yet, for some reason it is the closest school that offers the course outside of being enrolled in a school's Medical Laboratory Science program. 

Some things I have learned from this course so far:

-Americans do not call Canada "the Provinces", so I should not call the Unites States of America "the States".
-My professor uses examples of measuring blood levels using "Twinkies" thus, I stereotype Americans to eat too many Twinkies that it is detectable in their blood.
-The USA still uses the standard measuring system and I have done 3 years of University (and 21 years of my life) to perfect the metric system, and therefore, the USA needs to change to the Metric system because I need them to. Before the end of the summer.
-My public library ID'd me for a library card because you have to be over 18 to get a library card without your parents permission, and the librarian didn't believe me that I was 21. (That was a very tragic day.) 
-My public library doesn't like that Utah is making me write 6 proctored tests that they have to staff for me. 
-Wikipedia still hasn't taught me how marking works in the USA. 

Anyways, I am really happy with how the A to Z Challenge went. I couldn't really publish many  posts the last few days because of work and the fact that I moved back home with my parents and they do not permit me to sit on my computer for 20 hours a day. Or even 2 minutes to press "Publish" on my pre-written posts. For that, I apologize. I will try and post some interesting things throughout the summer, but my summer job is cleaning toilets and picking litter at the next city's downtown. That uses no brain power, so I feel like I am getting dumb. Perhaps I will have a revelation in the next week or so!

Darn good and sure of it,