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Germ Warfare {infographic}

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Science is taking up the fight against bacteria in surprising ways.

Msyophobia (or germophobica) : fear of germs

What is a germ: Simply, germs are very small organisms, or living things, that can cause people to get sick, and they’ve probably existed since the beginning of time. They are everywhere.

A stunningly short history of germs:

Bacteria were pretty much the first form of life on earth,

3,500 million years: How long germs have been around

1670s: Anton van Leeuwenhoek first looked at microorganisms under a microscope

1860s: Louis Pasteur developed the “germ theory” in the 1860s (the idea that they were living and caused disease).

Today: Scientists estimate there are trillions of micro-organisms inside us — specifically, in our intestines, nasal passages and on our skin and tongue and elsewhere. Some are bad germs, others are good germs.

There are 4 main types of germs:

Bacteria: single-celled creatures (so small you need a microscope to see them) that live just about everywhere on earth. You name it in the air, in soil, in water, and yes, in and on humans.
Virus: need a host to survive. Can grow and reproduce on their own if they have enough food, viruses need to be INSIDE the cell of a living plant or animal (including humans), or even inside a bacterium!
Fungi: made up of many cells; lives off of animals and other plants.
Protozoa: like bacteria, are extremely small. Of the 20,000 different types of protozoa, most live in water, oceans, lakes, rivers, and ponds.

Why people fear germs:

With all the talk about antibiotic-resistant infections and life-threatening flu strains, it’s easy to see why some people actively worry about what they touch and breathe.

7 Deadliest Germs:

E Coli: pathogens that cause deadly illness and disease in their human hosts.
Salmonella: takes two forms. One, typhi causes typhoid fever, which is responsible for the death of 216,000 persons a year in endemic areas.
Tetanus: Dirt carrying spores
Staphylococcus: one of the largest groups of bacteria with 40 subspecies. Normally found in small amounts on your skin, and a normal immune system can deal with it.
Syphilis: Easily treatable in the first and second stages now, the tertiary stage is still a big problem.
Streptococcus: This killer is responsible for numerous cases of pneumonia throughout the world, and meningitis.
Tuberculosis: has ravaged the world for centuries, also known as consumption. It has been found in the spines of mummies.

Fight the Power of Germs: Innovative germ fighting in hospitals now being used

Germ fighting robots to deal with superbugs
Using good germs to fight bad germs: Patients swabbed with probiotic bacteria called Lactobacillus plantarum 299 escaped infection as well as those cleaned up using the antiseptic chlorhexidine.
Sharkskin: Sharklet Technologies makes sheets of plastic imprinted with a raised sharkskin-like pattern. The sheets can be adhered to germ-prone surfaces to prevent bacteria from settling in for up to 30 days. An institutional version of the product is being tested for hospital use and is slated to debut next year.
Germ-fighting metal. Copper and Light. Blasting germs with beams of light or replacing surfaces with an electrically conductive metal may sound far-fetched, but these practices are becoming reality as hospitals search for innovative ways to combat infection.
Use of antibiotic to fight germs: A promising antibiotic simply named GSK1322322 targets gram-positive bacteria.
Chemically treated clothing: Researchers from a new start-up company called LaamScience have discovered an assortment of chemicals that can be used as a nano-thin layer and be coated on clothes materials such as cotton, nylon, and polyester. The chemical coating is toxic to a wide assortment of harmful microbes, but is completely harmless to humans.
Plasmas: Engineered to zap microorganisms. Hospital workers would bathe their hands in the plasma gas.

Innovative germ fighting around the home

Disinfect your home
Wash your hands: Soap and water pack a powerful punch against harmful microorganisms
Get a flu shot: To protect against the flu, anyone 6 months or older should get vaccinated, but shots aren’t 100 percent effective.
Don’t share dinnerware: If your child contracts a stomach bug, make sure he refrains from sharing food, drinks, and silverware with the rest of your family.
Close the toilet lid, then flush: Flushing the toilet with the lid up can launch germs into the air, landing them on the door and faucet handles as well as (gasp!) toothbrushes.
Change towels and sheets
Sneeze into sleeves
Scrub school gear: Your child’s backpack and lunchbox can house germs and carry them into your home.
Be extra careful with your storage, cleaning, food preparation, and shopping practices.
Be smart about your phone. Forget Tweets — a phone is far more efficient at transmitting germs. There are safe sanitizers.

But HEY, It’s not all bad news

FACT: Penicillin was called the “Miracle Drug” when it was first discovered because it cured many diseases caused by bacteria that made people very sick. It comes from a mold – another type of germ.

6 Famous People who are Germophobics

Howie Mandel, comedian: does not shake hands with anyone unless he is wearing latex gloves

Michael Jackson, superstar: suffered from many fears, including the fear of dogs, the fear of flying, the fear of getting fat, the fear of crowds, and an extreme fear of germs.

Howard Hughes, billionaire: Tried to protect himself from germs by using tissues to pick up objects. He even stuffed all the cracks in his windows with tissues to keep the germs out.

Donald Trump, millionaire: doesn’t shake hands because he’s afraid of germs.

Cameron Diaz, actress: She repeatedly washes her hands throughout the day and uses her elbows instead of her hands to open doors.

Saddam Hussein, dead Iraqi dictator: Often ordered visitors to strip and wash with antibacterial soap.

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Sources:

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http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/11/06/us-infections-bacteria-idUSTRE4A502320081106
http://www.inc.com/magazine/20091101/innovation-a-new-way-to-fight-germs.html
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