The miracle of poop

It’s a question that has perplexed scientists: does diarrhea have a purpose?

That is, is diarrhea is a symptom of disease, or does diarrhea actually help clear the bacteria causing an infection.

Cecile Borkhataria of the Daily Mail reports that scientists have found in sick mice, proteins caused microscopic leaks in the intestinal wall that let water in, making the mouse poop looser and limiting disease severity. 

The study, conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), looked at the immune mechanisms that drive diarrhea.

Diarrhea can have many different causes, including infections, certain types of medications, too much caffeine or alcohol and many more. 

It happens when there’s an excess of water in the intestines, which is normally re-absorbed by the body. 

The intestinal wall is lined with cells, and some water can pass through the cells, holes in the lining or via junctions between the cells.  

‘The hypothesis that diarrhea clears intestinal pathogens has been debated for centuries,’ said corresponding author of the study Dr Jerrold Turner of the BWH Departments of Pathology and Medicine. 

‘Its impact on the progression of intestinal infections remains poorly understood. 

‘We sought to define the role of diarrhea and to see if preventing it might actually delay pathogen clearance and prolong disease.’

To conduct the study, the researchers used a mouse infected with a bacteria called Citrobacter rodentium – the mouse equivalent of an E. coli infection. 

Within two days of the mouse being infected, the researchers saw an increase in the permeability of the mouse’s intestinal barrier – leading to water entering the intestines, causing diarrhea.

This occurred well before inflammation cellular damage of the intestines. 

The researchers discovered two new proteins involved in causing diarrhea – interleukin-22 and claudin-2, which humans possess too. 

They found that when the mouse was infected, immune cells travelled to the intestinal wall and produced interleukin-22. 

Interleukin-22 binds to cells on the intestinal wall, causing the release of another protein called claudin-2. 

It’s claudin-2 that causes the leak in cellular junction in the intestinal wall, allowing water to enter it and cause diarrhea. 

The researchers tested three different kinds of mice – regular mice, genetically modified mice that produce large amount of claudin-2, and mice that didn’t make any claudin-2. 

The regular mice had diarrhea when they got sick, and the mice that made more claudin-2 always had diarrhea. 

The mice that didn’t make any claudin-2 had more e injuries to their intestinal lining, and they still had diarrhea because it seemed as though their immune system attacked the cells help make some diarrhea. 

In related poop news, Rob Knight, one of the founding fathers of gut microbiome research, in 2012, used the crowdfunding platform FundRazr to coax more than 9,000 volunteers into first donating money, and then sending samples of their poop through the mail. A team of researchers probed these samples for bacterial DNA to create the first census of the 40 trillion or so bacteria that call our guts their home.

Kyle Frischkorn of the Smithsonian quotes Knight, who directs of the Center for Microbiome Innovation at the University of California at San Diego, as saying, “You get an ongoing input of microbes from your environment—microbes you eat on food itself.”

One of the mysteries sparked by the American Gut Project was why two people who claimed to follow the same diet could have such different communities of gut microbes. For the study, volunteers had self-reported their diets, with the vast majority following omnivorous diets, and less than 3 percent each identifying as “vegetarian” or “vegan.” When researchers crunched the numbers, however, they found no discernible correlations between gut communities and those with seemingly similar diets. 

“Diet categories were completely useless and didn’t correlate with the microbiome communities at all,” says Knight.

In other words, the bacteria in poop were telling a different dietary story than the people making that poop. “You can be a vegan who mostly eats kale, or you can be a vegan who mostly eats fries,” Knight explains. “Those have totally different consequences for your microbiome.” Anyone can claim to be a die-hard adherent to the Paleo Diet, it seems, but the data suggested that the microbiome remembers all those midnight ice cream transgressions.

Knight realized that the results of the American Gut Project were missing something crucial: A deeper dive into the food we eat. Filling that gap would mean analyzing all the food going in, and seeing how it correlated with the patterns in what comes out. But while collecting poop was, in some sense, straightforward—each person “submits a sample” in the same way—tallying up all the many foods people eat would be a lot more ambitious.

Every time you ingest, you change the interior landscape of you. Because the bulk of bacteria in the microbiome live in the gut, when we feed ourselves, we feed them too. The chemistry of what we eat, be it fries or kale, alters the chemical landscape of the gut, making it more cozy for some and less hospitable for others. 

It gets livelier. Because microbes are everywhere—on the table, in the air, on the surface of the muffin you left out on the counter—you’re also adding new microbes to the mix. Some stroll through your body like polite tourists. Others stick around and interact with the locals. Every bite has the potential to alter the microbiome, and subsequently human health. But researchers have yet to figure out how.

That’s because, until now, we didn’t have the platform to embark on the massive endeavor of collecting and analyzing food samples from around the world. Thanks to the American Gut Project, Knight and his team aren’t starting from scratch. Initially, the researchers plan to collect 1,000 samples from every brick of the familiar food pyramid, and then they’ll open it for the public to submit whatever foods they’re curious about. 

“We know about calorie count, and about different food groups, but the whole world of the molecules and the microbes in our food is a black box,” says Julia Gauglitz, a post-doctoral researcher at the Center for Microbiome Innovation who will direct a new project. As the old adage goes, “we are what we eat,” she says. And yet, when you get down to the microscopic level, “we know very little about what we’re consuming.”

Everything we eat is the cumulative product of the chemistry and microbes in the soil where it was grown, the factory where it was processed, and whatever you touched right before you ate it. Why is that important? Ultimately, the team hopes, demystifying the microbial patterns in our food will help us better engineer our diets to improve our health and ward off disease.

Knight draws a historical parallel to the discovery of essential nutrients. In the last century, researchers figured out that industrially processed foods had become nutrient-depleted. By artificially adding vitamins and minerals back in, deficiency diseases like rickets and beriberi were largely eliminated from the Western world. Similarly, understanding the health effects of the microbiome could allow us to engineer those missing microbes back into our meals.

“It’s fairly likely that our modern lifestyles are stripping out a whole lot of live microbes that we need to maintain health,” says Knight. “Getting an understanding of that could be as important as the understanding that vitamin C is necessary and making sure that everyone got enough of it.”

High heels and diarrhea really don’t mix; ‘I thought maybe the guy next to me had farted’ It was pole dancers with diarrhea in Florida

I used to hang out at a strip club.

When I was an undergrad, about 1984, when I didn’t have labs in the afternoon – which I did 3 days a week – I’d toddle home to Neeve St. in Guelph (that’s in Ontario, Canada, as I explained to a new neighbor I met on the morning walk to school today) and cross the train tracks to the strip club to eat lunch and read the paper (this was before, ipads, iphones, computers, whatever, we all bled the ink).

I didn’t really pay attention to the strippers.

I never went at night, because it was full of drunk bogans.

The Border Herald reports that a popular strip club in Jacksonville, Florida has been closed until further notice after several dancers contracted diarrhea last Friday night. The cause of the incident, which remains under investigation, has been initially linked to a contaminated buffet at the venue. While the investigation continues, the venue has not been named.

According to reports by local media, the strip club was nearly full on Friday night when the incident occurred, and both staff and customers were reported to have eaten from the free buffet, which included the usual selection of ribs, chicken and deep-fried shrimp.

While the results of the lab analysis are yet to come back, one source familiar with the investigation told reported that bad shrimp was the most likely cause is the diarrhea. “Typically shrimp are involved in cases like this, particularly when they are not cleaned thoroughly.”

That’s bullshit. It’s improper holding temperatures, probably Staph or C. perfringens (I spell it out so I can commend myself on being able to spell it). Or noro.

Patrons at the venue who were sitting near the stage were the most directly affected by the incident, which occurred close to 11pm. According to a witness at the venue, three dancers were performing on separate poles when the first sign of trouble emerged.

“At first I picked up a bad smell; I thought maybe the guy next to me had farted,” said the witness, who declined to be named. “However, the smell got worse and I noticed that a lot of other guys were looking around to see what it was.”

It was at this point the first dancer to suffer from diarrhea was unable to control her bowels any longer, and ‘a stream of brown liquid soon gushed over the stage,’ according to the witness. “It was absolutely disgusting,” he told journalists. “A number of guests immediately puked. I personally ran for the exit, I lost all interest in the show.”

The other dancers on stage also suffered from diarrhea soon after and were forced to abandon their performance. “They had a hard time getting off the stage,” said one witness, who stayed to watch after the incident. “High heels and diarrhea really don’t mix.”

Some guests who had been enjoying the show also contracted diarrhea and there was a rush on the men’s bathroom, which unfortunately did not have enough stalls to cope with the sudden influx in demand.

Cleaners who were hired to deal with the mess reportedly were shocked at the condition of the venue. “Strip clubs are generally dirty places, but this was on a whole new level,” said one of the cleaning staff. “In my time, I’ve seen faeces in a urinal once or twice, but never in the sinks.”

In an effort to compensate customers for the incident, the venue’s management took to social media to offer free entry to any guests who had been at the club on Friday night. Management also noted that the free buffet will not be available until further notice.

 

 

Ducks best goalie down with diarrhea

The Calgary Flames beat the Anaheim Ducks 8-3 last night.

bernierAt some point, there would usually be a goalie change en route to 8 goals. Jonathon Bernier never left the net.

So, coach Randy Carlyle, why did you do this to poor Bernier?

“RC said Bernier had to go the distance as (regulas starter John) Gibson had stomach flu. Even invoked the lovely word diarrhea. Would have pulled JB after four.”

Take a dump on Trump: Poo Haiku for World Toilet Day

 

 

Take a dump on Trump

I won’t change my toilet’s name

Your poo orange too.

trumptoiletSaturday is World Toilet Day, a serious effort by the United Nations focusing on the fact that one-third of the world’s population — or 2.4 billion people —  have no toilet at home. A third of those people are children. They are vulnerable to disease, malnutrition and other major problems because there is no clean way of going to the bathroom where they live.

Marylou Tousignant of The Washington Post writes the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other organizations want everyone in the world to have proper toilets and safe drinking water by 2030.

People living in present-day Scotland and Pakistan built the first indoor toilets about 4,500 years ago. Pipes carried the waste outdoors. Knossos palace, built 3,700 years ago on the island of Crete in the Mediterranean, had some of the first flush toilets. They used rainwater and water from nearby springs. A wooden seat kept users dry.

Medieval castles had toilets built high on an outside wall. There was a stone seat at the top, and gravity took care of the rest. Often the waste dropped into the castle moat. People living in towns, meanwhile, collected their waste in what were called chamber pots, and they emptied them by heaving the contents out a window. Public lavatories, which were not common at the time, were often just several toilet holes in a row built over a river.

In 1596, England’s Sir John Harington designed a flush toilet with a handle and a raised water tank. He said using it would leave rooms smelling sweet. He gave one to his godmother, Queen Elizabeth I, who didn’t like it. Instead, she used a pot in a box covered in velvet and trimmed with lace. The idea of an indoor flush toilet didn’t catch on until 200 years later.

The word “toilet” comes from the French “toile,” meaning “cloth.” It referred to the covering on a lady’s dressing table and, over time, to the dressing room itself and the primping that went on there. (Wealthy people in the 17th and 18th centuries often had rooms at home just for getting dressed.) In the 19th century, “toilet” got its modern meanings: the place where bathing and other private acts occur and the bowl into which human waste is deposited.

Over time, chamber pots and toilet bowls got fancier and fancier. One such pot, sold during the American Revolution, had an image of Britain’s King George III at the bottom of the bowl.

Thomas Jefferson, who used flush toilets while he was the U.S. ambassador to France in the 1780s, had three small rooms for toilets built at Monticello, his home in Virginia. But there is no proof that they were true flush toilets. And because most American homes did not have running water until a century later, the widespread use of flush toilets came later as well.

Chinese businessman Zhong Jiye will not give up the brand name on his Trump Toilet products, NBC News reports.

“We registered our company in 2002 and obtained approval from the trademark office in Beijing,” said Zhong, referring to Shenzhen Trump Industrial Company Limited, which mostly manufactures high-tech toilet seats. 

hanksy-dumptrump“If (U.S. President-elect Donald) Trump thinks our trademark violates his rights and interests, he can use legal methods because our company observes China’s laws,” CEO Zhong told NBC News, adding that he is prepared to defend his company’s legal rights to the Trump brand name.

In Chinese, the company name means “innovate universally.” 

Vicky Hallett of NPR reports that poetry may be one way of getting people to discuss diarrhea.

That’s the idea behind Poo Haiku, a competition created by Defeat DD, a campaign dedicated to the eradication of diarrheal disease.

Although everybody’s had the runs, it’s not something most folks talk about, says Hope Randall, digital communications officer for PATH’s Center for Vaccine Innovation and Access, which created DefeatDD to bring together resources on vaccines, nutrition, oral rehydration therapy, sanitation and more.

Kat Kelley of the Global Health Technologies Coalition, which references a recent study published in The Lancet:

Just six pathogens

But eighty percent of kids’

Diarrheal deaths.

Randall herself penned an entry:

A vicious cycle,

Gut damage, malnutrition

We can halt the churn.

And from Doug Powell:

Take a dump on Trump

I won’t change my toilet’s name

Is your poo orange too.

(Depends whether the word orange is one syllable or two.)

Diarrhea burrito is not healthy eating: Chipotle gets a free pass

For whatever reason – money – Chipotle investors and apologists are willing to look beyond the company’s many failings.

diarrhea burrito’If Chipotle really wanted to be a leader, they would have embraced microbiologically safe food and internal verification long before the 2015 outbreaks.

If Chipotle really wanted to be a leader they’d stop playing to consumer fears with their advertising.

If Chipotle really wanted to be a leader, they would embrace genetically engineered foods that require fewer and far less harmful pesticides.

Chipotle is a follower, sucking up dollars wherever it can.

In its latest PR rah-rah stunt, Chipotle is going to close all of its 1,900 outlets on Feb. 8 for a few hours “for company executives to be transparent about the status of the E. coli outbreak, and what Chipotle is doing to prevent it from happening again.

Chipotle’s stock price sits is currently down around 40% off its 52-week high, as the outbreak news hurt sales more than had been expected. The company has advised investors that it could be a few rocky quarters before Chipotle sees a definitive, positive improvement.

In an effort to bring back some of the customers it’s lost, Chipotle co-CEO Monty Moran said Wednesday it will be doubling the amount of free food restaurants can give away to its customers, reports CNBC.com.

The New York Times says, with a straight face, Chipotle’s new mantra is “Safe food, not just fresh” while gushing that, “From its start in 1993 as a burrito stand in Denver opened by a young Culinary Institute of America-trained chef who borrowed money from his parents, Chipotle now has more than 2,000 locations. Its stock nearly doubled over the last five years, and in August the company reached a market value of $23 billion.

south.park.diarrhea“Chipotle emphasizes fresh, locally sourced ingredients. It was the first major chain to reject genetically modified food. Chipotle has embodied the notion of doing well by doing good.”

That’s not doing anyone any good.

It’s marketing BS.

Consumers aren’t so dumb or confused. Chipotle said same-store sales dropped a greater-than-expected 14.6 percent in the last quarter, and analysts have been scrambling to downgrade their ratings. On Tuesday, Chipotle shares dipped below $400 and were down 47 percent from the August high.

Two of the incidents, the one in Simi Valley, Calif., in August that sickened 234 people, and another in Boston in December, which affected at least 136 customers, were linked to a norovirus, a highly contagious virus that causes gastroenteritis. It is spread through contact with an infected person, a surface bearing the virus, or by contaminated food.

Chipotle has said both outbreaks were caused by sick employees who ignored strict policies prohibiting them from coming to work and, without elaborating, said that disciplinary measures were meted out to those responsible.

Anyone can say they have strict policies (Heston-norovirus-isn’t-my-fault Blumenthal comes to mind) but verification, that takes effort.

In August, 64 people were treated for salmonella after eating at a Chipotle in Minnesota. Fresh tomatoes were identified as the culprit.

Chipotle shares have jumped nearly 14 percent over the last two days after company executives gave an upbeat presentation to investors, bankers and analysts at the ICR investor conference in Orlando, Fla., where they predicted the brand would regain its luster and reiterated an aggressive expansion and growth plan.

Follow the money.

Rectal swabs? Eeww: Diarrhea downs 91 police trainees in Philippines

Ninety-one police trainees were hospitalized  Friday due to diarrhea in Surigao City, a belated police report said on Tuesday.

Cartman-Anal-Probe-275x180Superintendent Daniel Puesca, information officer of the Caraga regional police office, reported to the National Operation Center in Camp Crame said that 50 members of Public Safety Field Training Program (PSFTP) class 2015-02 were rushed to the regional hospital at around 6 p.m. Friday

Another 41 trainees were later taken to the same hospital after also complaining of stomachache after they were given first aid by the staff of the training school.

As of Tuesday, Puesca said the Surigao City health office of the DOH are still working to determine the cause of the diarrhea and water samples have been taken by the regional hospital. The results on the water testing are expected in a week.

Results of rectal swabs and stool examinations conducted on the patients will also be sent to Metro Manila for confirmation.

A pox of poo on you, soccer star

Chelsea’s star forward Eden Hazard is no joke. Having created more chances to score last season than any other player in the Premier League, it’s no wonder people have compared him to La Liga greats Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

D0W30WOr that he was voted the league’s Player of the Year last season. Quite frankly, Hazard is intimidating to his opponents — even Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany, who jokingly said on Friday that he hopes Hazard comes down with messy intestinal issues so that he wouldn’t be able to play on Sunday.

“You’d almost hope that Eden Hazard would have diarrhea,” the defender told Belgium’s Het Nieuwsblad this week (via the Guardian).

Diarrhea downs 200 at export processing firm in Philippines

Diarrhea downed 200 employees of an export processing company in Danao City on Thursday, with investigators looking at contaminated food or water as among the possible causes.

kenny.diarrheaOf the 200 affected employees of Mitsumi, two were confined at the Danao City Hospital where personnel from the Provincial Health Office examined them, GMA Cebu’s Alan Domingo reported Friday.

 The other patients were brought to other hospitals in Cebu City, the report added.

Proper handwashing, pooping require proper tools: Dirty school bathrooms give students diarrhea in Vietnam

And it’s not just Vietnam.

Dirty toilets and bathrooms gave 40 per cent of Ho Chi Minh City students diarrhea, according to UNICEF Viet Nam.

dirty.bathroomLast month, the city’s Health Department reported that 220 students at District 12’s Nguyen Khuyen Elementary School were unable to go to school, as they suffered a digestion-related disease caused by unclean school toilets. Two children in the southern city died in July from a similar condition.

The Ministry of Health reported 3,719 diarrhea cases in HCM City in the first six months of 2014 out of 301,570 nationwide in the first eight months.

School bathrooms and toilets in urban areas of the city are often in poor condition due to the large number of students and teachers that use them, as well as the lack of soap and fresh water for cleaning.

vietnam.ToiletThe problem is even worse in rural areas of HCM City, where schools have no bathrooms at all. In those areas, 27 per cent of children have to go to the toilet outside the school.

Animals can make humans poop: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Domestic animal husbandry, a common practice globally, can lead to zoonotic transmission of enteric pathogens. However, this risk has received little attention to date. This systematic review and meta-analysis examines the evidence for an association between domestic exposure to food-producing animals and cases of human diarrhea and specific enteric infections.

family.guy.diarrheaWe performed a systematic review of available literature to examine domestic livestock and poultry as risk factors for diarrhea and applied pre-determined quality criteria. Where possible, we carried out meta-analysis of specific animal–pathogen pairs.

We found consistent evidence of a positive association between exposure to domestic food-producing animals and diarrheal illness across a range of animal exposures and enteric pathogens. Out of 29 studies included in the review, 20 (69.0%) reported a positive association between domestic animal exposure and diarrhea. Domestic exposure to poultry revealed a substantial association with human campylobacteriosis (OR 2.73, 95% CI 1.90–3.93).

Our results suggest that domestic poultry and livestock exposures are associated with diarrheal illness in humans. Failure to ascertain the microbial cause of disease may mask this effect. Exposure to domestic animals should be considered a risk factor for human diarrheal illness and additional studies may identify potential mitigation strategies to address this risk. 

Human diarrhea infections associated with domestic animal husbandry: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, March 2014

Laura D. Zambrano, Karen Levy, Neia P. Menezes and Matthew C. Freeman