E-Coli, Salmonella, gut bacteria social networks (no, really!) and lots more infectious awesomeness! Jenna Capyk joins Kevin, Joe, and Toren for a podcast so chock full of prokaryotes it’s our longest yet!

Music: “Colour Me Green” by The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets.




23 Responses

  1. I can say firsthand that salmonella sucks. I have 5 snakes, and I know about the connection between salmonella and reptiles, so I’m usually extra-careful when handling them, making sure to wash my hands thoroughly before & after. But I cleaned their water dishes at 6am on a Saturday morning before going out, and by 11am, I was feeling poorly. I got home at 12p and slept until 8p, then proceeded to experience the worst intestinal cramping I have ever felt before or since. It was when I started passing blood that my bf demanded I go to the ER.

    Since it’s a “reportable illness,” I got a call from the Department of Health and had a big long interview with them to try & determine where I got it. I’d heard about recent e.coli outbreaks with spinach, so that’s what I thought happened, but then labs came back to say salmonella. Feh. So I had to take fecal samples from each of my snakes and send them in for testing, and then some ladies from the DOH came by to swab the tanks (and since she had interns with her, she asked if they could swab all over the place and I said sure), and voila, it was indeed salmonella from my babies.

    And looks like I wasn’t the only one:

    So I feel better about that, anyway. 😉 At least it wasn’t my babies’ fault!

  2. Ok, this may sound weird, but that picture of the woman with Necrotizing Fasciitis, reminds me a lot of the character Ben Daimio from the B.P.R.D comics.

  3. I have one degree of separation from Necrotizing Fasciitis. As mentioned in the Feces comments, a fellow I knew that played rugby with my brother contracted it after getting a cut playing rugby on a field in Fiji that had bird droppings on it. Because he was playing for team Canada, they caught it early and he only had to have part of his muscle on his leg removed. He could still play rugby but he was maimed.

    I also have one degree of separation with E. Coli. I was backpacking through Europe and Africa. My buddy Nick and I were in Morocco where a street vendor shoved a turtle in Nick’s hands as we were on our way to eat lunch. When we got to Spain, we were staying in this youth hostel that used to be a castle. Nick was staying on the top floor of the tower and had to keep getting up all night and running down the stairs to be sick. Poor bastard.

    I’m not sure if this counts as a ‘Caustic Soda’ worthy bacteria story but I think it might qualify. Last year the press released news that NASA sponsored researchers found bacteria that, very simply put, swapped arsenic for phosphorus in its molecular building blocks. However, the research has come under much scrutiny in the scientific community by several heavy hitters in the field. The woman who authoured the paper appears to have been subsequently thrown under the bus since that time.

    Popular Science recently did a good piece on Dr. Felisa Wolfe-Simon, once of the researchers who made the initial claim. I definitely recommend reading it.

    And finally, to lighten the mood, a jacket made out of bacteria…

  4. Interesting medical phenomenon with bacteria – a few years ago my fiance was diagnosed with bacterial endocarditis. A strain of bacteria called Streptococcus viridans infected the mitral valve of her heart. She had to wear a pick-line (pretty much a tube that ran up her arm and applied strong antibiotics directly onto the valve) for a month.

    Also, I’ve been waiting for you guys to do a bacteria episode, I have a gift for you. Will send via email.

  5. OHAI Jenna, this question is for you: I just want to check why exactly you’ll kick our arses if we use anti-bacterial gel hand sanitiser stuff.

    Is it because it’s like using a weak dose of anti-biotics that kills the weaker bacteria but allows the stronger ones to continue to breed and spread their resistant genes? Or is it because it simply doesn’t do anything other than make our hands feel all refreshed?

    (Sorry, I was concentrating on something else at that section of the show, so missed the explanation – damn traffic.)


    1. Listen to that bit again — I made sure to get a clarification. Hand Sanitizer is great — it uses alcohol to dry out and kill the bacteria which they can’t evolve away from.

      What she’ll kick your ass for is using antibacterial soaps and cleansers — all those do is strengthen the bacteria that survive.

  6. if one was to notice Necrotizing Fasciitis breaking out, would pouring alcohol on it slow it down?

  7. Thank’s for the longer episode for bacteria. Very entertaining and suitably gross. All hail our bacterial overlords. (and please go infect someone else…) And a big thank you for Jenna.
    I also have a one degree of separation for a flesh eating bacteria story. A friend was finding one of my Geocaches in the Aussie bush and got scratched on some thorn bushes. Within a day he was in intensive care as bacteria proceeded to eat the flesh off his leg. They contained it to his lower leg and recovered after a week of IC however the scaring is really impressive. Thankfully he doesn’t blame me for nearly killing him. 🙂

  8. Hey Guys,

    Cheers to another great podcast!! I just finished a basic wound care course and we talked a lot about soap! Basically the soaps we find in the health & beauty isle are alkaline and increase the pH of the skin, causing it to become more basic. The ‘happy campers’ on our skin like a pH of about 5.5. It takes our skin anywhere from 45 minutes to 19 hours to get back to its preferred pH level. Excessive use of anti-bacterial soaps can increase bacterial resistance. Now not only have we washed away the happy camper good bacteria, we are helping the bad bacteria become more resistant and we’re leaving our skin exposed for the bad bacteria to multiply as our body works on rebalancing our pH.

    I’ll get off my soapbox now ;).. haha no pun intended.

  9. (Catch up continues.)

    Thank you for coming in, Jenna!

    As an addendum to pop culture, I wanted to mention the board game ‘Pandemic’. Its a cooperative game of several players vs. a simultaneous breakout of four possible pandemics. I’m curious what a medical professional’s reaction to this is.

    1. The crew of CS should probably get together and play this game. I’ve heard great things about it and it’s very on-topic.

    2. Ugh, I’d completely forgotten to mention Pandemic! I had access to a copy until a while ago, though I’d only played it once (we lost, of course).

  10. I had my run in with food poisoning in Benin, West Africa while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer. I had traveled to another PCV’s village, eating street food along the way, and we were going to take a taxi together towards the south to meet up with the rest of our group for Thanksgiving dinner. A taxi in Benin=a 5-seater stuffed with 9 people, 3 kids and chickens. I was squished in the middle, of course, when my body started to rebel from the inside out. Panic ensued, but my friend was able to convince the driver to pull over and the damage wasn’t too widespread. Fast forward an hour (Everyone agreed to let me have the window seat, so the ride was manageable.) and I found myself standing in my friend’s latrine, knowing that the projectile vomit and diarrhea were not going to take turns, and I had to choose an end …
    No Thanksgiving dinner for me that year.

  11. Note on War of the Worlds
    While Spielberg was making his Tom Cruise vehicle version of WOTW there were other versions being produced and all three were released in 2005.

    One was directed and produced by David Michael Latt and was set in modern times. IMHO not a very good movie but in some ways better than the big budget Spielberg version. I don’t know if this was even released to theaters. I saw it on TV. Oddly enough this was followed in 2008 by War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave directed by C. Thomas Howell produced by David Michael Latt. I haven’t seen it but I think it’s a departure from the HG Wells story that just goes somewhere else.

    The other was called H.G. Wells War of The Worlds but IMDB lists it as simply War of the Worlds then notes the full name as an also known as. I believe it was a straight to DVD release. I have not seen this. My understanding is that it was a sincere effort to make a movie set in the proper time as the book. Despite bad reviews I do intend to watch it someday to see for myself. I don’t understand why Spielberg couldn’t have used his vast resources to make a movie faithful to the book. It would have been much more interesting visually and HG Wells fans would have loved it.

    It’s been a long time since I read the book but I don’t think all that squirting of red fluid was in it. I could be wrong but it doesn’t ring a bell at all with me. I think it was a Spielberg effort to add more substance to the aliens plans than simply military conquest. Maybe a terraforming aspect.

    When I was a struggling sixth grader with poor reading skills someone pointed me to The War of the Worlds and turned me into an avid reader so the book has a special place in my thoughts. I wish someone would make the movie I saw in my mind when I read it.

  12. I would totally use Google Pus! Joe totally needs to get on that and make it a thing!