When microbiology makes the news

Not just any microbiology news – Naegleria fowleri microbiology news.

Not heard of Naegleria fowleri? Not under its technical name* perhaps, but you will probably recognise its alter ego:


Yes. Naegleria fowleri is the BRAIN-EATING AMOEBA! It’s an amoeba… that eats your brain.
And it’s catchy (the bug, not the name):


Fascinating. Naegleria doesn’t discriminate. Next it’ll be infecting black people and white people and everything. (You’ve been warned.)

But N.fowleri is behind the times with its gastronomical preferences. Streptococcus pyogenes was making headlines long ago. Don’t recall it? How about if I told you that it was actually called THE DEADLY FLESH EATING BUG?
And – kerching, light bulb moment – suddenly you know.
But did you know that you can save yourself from certain death by being obese? Yes, really.

Then there are our Extended Spectrum Beta-Lactamase Producers and Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci. Too technical again?
These are the “proper terms” for SUPERBUGS that are going to kill us all.

I always smirk when I read these sort of descriptions and headlines, but there is an important point here: putting things into layman’s terms raises awareness. It makes them accessible to the common person. (There is perhaps a case to be made for maybe dumbing them down and sentionalising them a little less though.)

Ain’t nobody going to read an article on Sky News entitled “Patient with Naegleria fowleri cerebral infection remains capable of conversation”.
But stick in a bit of brain-eating and suddenly everyone’s a fan.

Viva microbiology! Viva!

* or its ‘name’ as we microbiologists refer to it. 

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