Mircobiologically speaking: Should you make out with your dog?

“You sleep with your dog? That’s microbiologically sorta gross.”

miley-cyrus-kissing-dogThat was the first thing I said to Dr. Amy Hubbell, during a seminar in 2005, and I had no idea who she was.

I also told her organic food was not safer – and probably less safer – than conventional food, and that all that French food was overpriced shit.

Or something like that.

Whether or not such practices are microbiologically gross enters into the domain of how to analyze risk, and how to provide advice. Chapman, Schaffner and I always say variations on the same thing: we ain’t your pastors, you decide what’s right, but here’s some info and you decide.

Christopher Mele of The New York Times writes: beware of too much dog kissing.

Especially if your dog likes to eat poop (coprophagia).

You kiss your mother with that mouth?

Dr. Neilanjan Nandi, an assistant professor of medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, said in an email that most animals’ mouths are host to “an enormous oral microbiome of bacteria, viruses and yeast.”

Dr. Nandi says a dog’s saliva has proteins that may help cleanse or heal its own wounds, but in a paragraph titled “Why Not to Make Out With Your Pet,” he noted, “There are some organisms unique to dogs that we were simply not meant to tolerate or combat.”

Some bacteria in dogs’ mouths are zoonotic, meaning the animals can pass them to humans and cause disease.

Some common zoonotic bacteria include clostridium, E. coli, salmonella and campylobacter, which can cause severe gastrointestinal disease in humans, said Dr. Leni K. Kaplan, a lecturer of community practice service at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

mika1-004So I shouldn’t let my dog lick me at all?

Not entirely.

“When dog saliva touches intact human skin, especially in a healthy person, it is extremely unlikely to cause any problems, as there will be very little absorption through the skin,” Dr. Kaplan wrote in an email.

However, a dog’s saliva and pathogens can be absorbed more easily through the mucous membranes of a person’s nose, mouth and eyes. Though illnesses transmitted this way are rare, Dr. Kaplan said it was best to avoid having your dog lick those parts of your face.

John Oxford, a professor of virology at Queen Mary University of London and an expert in microbiology, said he would never let a dog lick his face, The Hippocratic Post reported.

“It is not just what is carried in saliva,” he said. “Dogs spend half of their life with their noses in nasty corners or hovering over dog droppings so their muzzles are full of bacteria, viruses and germs of all sorts.”

Other infections, such as hookworms and roundworms, can be transmitted in a practice called coprophagia, in which animals ingest one another’s stool or by licking each others’ anuses, Dr. Nandi said in an email.

Dr. Joe Kinnarney, the immediate past president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, said in an interview that one study calculated that a puppy could have as many as 20 million to 30 million roundworm eggs in its intestinal tract in one week. He said a client’s child at his practice in Greensboro, N.C., nearly lost an eye from a roundworm infection.

It is conceivable that a dog with fecal material in its mouth could transmit an intestinal parasite to a human through licking, but that is rare, Dr. Sarah Proctor, a clinical assistant professor and the director of the veterinary technology program at the University of New Hampshire, said in an email.

More commonly, a parasite can be contracted by ingesting contaminated soil — via a home garden, for example — where pets have left their droppings.

President Obama even touched on the subject in an interview with Wired magazine that was published in August:

“I still don’t let Sunny and Bo lick me, because when I walk them on the side lawn, some of the things I see them picking up and chewing on, I don’t want that, man,” Mr. Obama said, laughing.

Dr. Proctor says people should be aware that not all dogs want to be hugged or kissed.

“Most people do not pick up on a dog’s subtle body language that shows fear, stress or aggression,” she wrote. “Putting your face into a dog’s face and kissing it could lead to a bite on the face if you are not careful.”

Cats do not eat feces, and humans are therefore unlikely to become infected by parasites from them, according to the website petMD.

Cats’ mouths do harbor Pasteurella, which can cause infections of the skin and lymph node, and Bartonella henselae, a bacterium that can cause a severe skin and lymph node infection known as cat scratch fever, the website reported.

Most of those infections come from bites or scratches.

What precautions should I take?

Experts recommend:

  • Make sure your pet is current on all vaccines.
  • New pets should undergo deworming.
  • Keep your pets away from the feces of other animals.
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water.

Arden Moore, who hosts “Oh Behave,” a podcast on Pet Life Radio, said in an email that she welcomed the occasional kiss from her five dogs and one cat, and kisses the tops of their heads in return.

“Pets, just like people, crave attention and affection,” she said. “As long as I remain healthy and my pets stay healthy, I will take this ‘risk’ and accept their kisses.”

Nasty women? Cat poop used to protect Trump sign from theft

Kathy Bressler of Monroe, MI, is passionate about two things: Donald Trump and her 10 cats.

braunwynn-hockeyBressler has never put up political signs before but because of her support for Trump, she has several signs and buttons, and volunteers for the local Republican party a couple of days a week.

So, when someone stole Trump signs from her yard, so she decided to make a stink about it – literally. Bressler combined her love of cats and country and “poopy trapped” her Trump signs.

court-hockey“My First Amendment rights are being violated,” Bressler said. “SO, I thought, gee, it’s not a pleasant idea if someone would happen to happen to step into the used cat litter that I’ve been sprinkling around my Trump signs. So, I thought that might be a good deterrent.”

DC bartender and artist Chantal Tseng makes poop murals in bathrooms

According to bizjournals.com the murals are about poop. Not made out of poop (sadly).screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-5-20-30-pm

Regular Washington imbibers may notice something if they take an extra minute in the restrooms at the new REI flagship store in NoMa: the name of one of D.C.’s favorite bartenders, Chantal Tseng, inscribed on a roll of toilet paper held by a cartoon bear on the wall.

Washington City Paper even included her in a piece it did on D.C.’s mixologists turned chalk artists — which is how the folks at REI found her when they were looking for artists for murals at the new store.

After the call, Tseng enlisted D.C.’s go-to chalk artist, Patrick Owens, for help on the project.

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-5-20-47-pmTseng and Owens drew extra animals in addition to the bear, and added leaves, animal tracks and, yes, piles of poop to the mural, which is titled “Poop in the Woods: Droppin’ Deuces Wild.” Tseng likes to incorporate haiku into her drawings, so she added a thematic one written backward that can only be read in the bathroom mirrors: “Last chance to soap up/ before heading back out there/ think of the children.”

Yes. Think about the children. And all the other folks who might get poop from your hands onto their hands or in their food.

Hillary bus craps in Georgia

A Democratic National Committee bus emblazoned with Hillary Clinton insignia spewed raw sewage and human feces all over the road after the bus inexplicably stopped in front of an auto parts store in Lawrenceville, Georgia and literally let it rip. A hazmat team soon declared the scene a biohazard.

hillary-bus-sewag“I’m sitting here in my store, and I look out the window, and I see this RV turn up,” Mike Robins, manager of O’Reilly Autoparts, tells Heat Street. “It says ‘Hillary and Kaine,’ has their pictures on the side. I was going to go out and take a picture when a guy got out of the bus, walked midway, pushed a lever, and right before I knew it, they were dumping all their raw sewage.”

Robins says he watched aghast—and then started snapping photos. “It was just right there, side of the street, dumping,” he says. “They just turned that lever and let it rip.”

 Robins tried to call the health department. They didn’t answer, so he called a friend in the police department, who promptly alerted others in the city. Before long, the fire department and a hazmat team arrived.

Authorities considered it a biohazard, Robins says, and they couldn’t spray it down the storm drain, so they swept it up in red bags. Police reported a pile of waste, toilet paper and a foul smell, WBS-TV Atlanta reported.

“I just can’t believe they did that,” Robin says. “Anybody. You just can’t believe anyone would do that. You see it in a comedy movie in TV, but you don’t think you’d see anyone do that in real life. … It’s not like they don’t have enough money to go to the reclaim basin, hook up and dispose of it properly. One of my customers said, ‘Well, she’s been crapping on us all these years, what are you surprised with?’”

In a statement to local press, the DNC called the incident “an honest mistake,” apologizing and vowing to work with state and local authorities to fix any problems.

More throwing poop: Drunk man in UK police cell hurled poop at CCTV camera

A disgruntled man pooped on the floor of a police cell after his request for toilet roll was said to have been ignored.

pay-shoplifter-poops-on-supermarket-floorIan Brock, 31, was caught on CCTV pulling his trousers down and defecating in a corner.

He then smeared his own excrement on the walls and threw a lump of it at the camera.

Brock, of Rectory Road, Llangwm, pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage when he appeared before Haverfordwest Magistrates Court on Tuesday (October 4).

Prosecutor Vaughan Pritchard-Jones said Brock had been arrested for an unrelated matter and was “highly intoxicated” when he carried out the dirty protest.

“In interview, he admitted what he had done and said he was disgusted with himself,” said Mr Pritchard-Jones.

In the spirit of the US Presidential debate: 4 professors involved in philosophy brawl find feces in their mail

Andrew Mytelka of The Chronicle of Higher Education reports  four philosophy professors who were involved in a dust-up with Brian Leiter, an influential figure in the field, received packages of excrement in the mail last summer, and critics of Mr. Leiter are accusing him of being at the bottom of the fecal attack, reports BuzzFeed.

everyone-poopwMr. Leiter, a professor at the University of Chicago and founding editor of the Philosophical Gourmet Report, a powerful ranking of graduate programs, is known for his combative style and caustic judgments of colleagues and programs, but he has forcefully denied the accusations.

“This is about trying to embarrass me,” he told BuzzFeed. “This isn’t about the recipients.”

The four professors — Carrie Ichikawa Jenkins of the University of British Columbia, Sally Haslanger of MIT, J. David Velleman of NYU, and Carolyn D. Jennings of the University of California at Merced — said the poop packages were unequivocal threats and attempts to silence them. The incident presumably stems from Ms. Jenkins’s criticism two years ago of philosophers who don’t treat their colleagues, especially “professionally vulnerable” junior scholars, with respect — an implicit critique of Mr. Leiter and his Philosophical Gourmet Report. The other professors supported her perspective.

Coaching little kids hockey is just as bad (not the kids, the parents).

You knew it all along: It’s pigeon poop

Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serotype Enteritidis is a major cause of human salmonellosis worldwide; however, little is known about the genetic relationships between S. Enteritidis clinical strains and S. Enteritidis strains from other sources in Chile.

pigeon-poopWe compared the whole genomes of 30 S. Enteritidis strains isolated from gulls, domestic chicken eggs, and humans in Chile, to investigate their phylogenetic relationships and to establish their relatedness to international strains. Core genome multilocus sequence typing (cgMLST) analysis showed that only 246/4,065 shared loci differed among these Chilean strains, separating them into two clusters (I and II), with cluster II being further divided into five subclusters. One subcluster (subcluster 2) contained strains from all surveyed sources that differed at 1 to 18 loci (of 4,065 loci) with 1 to 18 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), suggesting interspecies transmission of S. Enteritidis in Chile. Moreover, clusters were formed by strains that were distant geographically, which could imply that gulls might be spreading the pathogen throughout the country.

 Our cgMLST analysis, using other S. Enteritidis genomes available in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) database, showed that S. Enteritidis strains from Chile and the United States belonged to different lineages, which suggests that S. Enteritidis regional markers might exist and could be used for trace-back investigations.

Whole-genome sequencing analysis of Salmonella enterica Serovar Enteritidis isolates in Chile provides insights into possible contamination between gulls, poultry, and humans

Appl Environ Microbiol 82:6223–6232. doi:10.1128/AEM.01760-16.

M Toro, P Retamal, S Ayers, M Barreto, M Allard, EW Brown, N Gonzalez-Escalona

http://aem.asm.org/content/82/20/6223.abstract?etoc

 

Everyone poops and it can power Toyota’s newest car

Sam Blum of Thrillist writes human poop is readily available anywhere humans are, and Toyota’s about to cash in on all that crap: The Japanese automaker is using the bountiful resource to make fuel for the Mirai, a hydrogen-based car, and according to Quartz, the process comes together through pretty simple science.

toyota-miraiAt a wastewater plant in Fukuoka, Japan, Toyota is creating biogas by adding microorganisms to liquid and solid waste. After that, scientists filter out all carbon dioxide, and add more water vapor to create hydrogen.

It’s the same poo-to-hydrogen conversion that’s proven quite useful in India, where “they have loads of biogas plants in villages and such that are just part of their energy infrastructure,” according to Marc Melaina of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

It’s a process that Yoshikazu Tanaka, chief engineer of the Toyota Mirai, would ultimately like to see create a “hydrogen society,” but poo isn’t known for its renewable potential, at least in the United States. Bill Elrick, executive director of the California Fuel Cell Partnership, laid bare the dilemma to Quartz, saying “There’s only some few hundred Mirais in the state of California right now…that’s not enough to turn it into a full business from Toyota’s perspective or the energy producers’ perspectives.”

 

Avoid pigeon poop, possible source of bad E. coli

Verotoxigenic Escherichia coli infections in humans cause disease ranging from uncomplicated intestinal illnesses to bloody diarrhea and systemic sequelae, such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

pigeon-poop-shamelessPrevious research indicated that pigeons may be a reservoir for a population of verotoxigenic E. coli producing the VT2f variant. We used whole-genome sequencing to characterize a set of VT2f-producing E. coli strains from human patients with diarrhea or HUS and from healthy pigeons. We describe a phage conveying the vtx2f genes and provide evidence that the strains causing milder diarrheal disease may be transmitted to humans from pigeons.

The strains causing HUS could derive from VT2f phage acquisition by E. coli strains with a virulence genes asset resembling that of typical HUS-associated verotoxigenic E. coli.

Whole-Genome characterization and strain comparison of VT2f- producing Eschericha coli causing hemolytic uremic syndrome

Emerging Infectious Dieseaes, Volume 22, Number 12- December 2016,  DOI: 10.3201/eid2212.160017

http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/22/12/16-0017_article#suggestedcitation

Burglar takes a dump on victim’s bedroom floor, police use the poop to track him down

When you gotta go, you gotta go.

Unfortunately for one Chinese thief, that moment came when he was in the middle of robbing a house.

panda-poopThe 39-year-old man surnamed Zhang from Henan told a Beijing court that he simply couldn’t hold it, the Beijing Times reports. Rather than try to make it to the bathroom, Zhang took a dump right beside the poor victim’s bed. Think of it as a trade?

This being the age of CSI, the critical clump of evidence turned out to be Zhang’s downfall. Beijing police extracted DNA from the poop and matched it to Zhang, who already had a criminal record, receiving a 3-year prison sentence for theft in 2008.

This time, it doesn’t look like Zhang will get off so easy. Thanks to that fateful dump, he has been charged with a whopping 286 cases of theft and 1 case of robbery over the past 4 years. It’s not clear how Beijing police managed to link Zhang to 300 odd thefts, we assume that he didn’t leave his calling card at each one.