It is unlikely that anyone alive today can remember what life was like before antibiotics. It was a pivotal point in the history of medicine and probably the whole of mankind. If it weren't for the ingenious speculation of men like Alexander Fleming that not all bacteria live in harmony with other bacteria, we may never have discovered penicillin, the first antibiotic to treat bacterial disease in humans. The Penicillium fungus, a type of mold often seen growing on bread, exudes a chemical that causes the cell wall of certain bacteria to rupture and die. Since then, researchers have studied the various ways bacteria are antagonized to develop new antibiotics.
Wendy G Clough, MD
Specialty: Infectious Disease
- infectious disease
- internal medicine
Location and Office HoursEllsworth Pryor III MD
Newhall, CA 91321
- Anthem Blue Cross of California
- Blue Shield of California
- CIGNA HealthCare
- Great-West Healthcare CIGNA
- Health Net
- Inter Valley Health Plan
- PacifiCare/Secure Horizons
- United Healthcare, California
- Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital
- Providence Holy Cross Medical Center
- How were antibiotics discovered?
What kind of infection can I get by swimming in a lake?
Swimming in a lake could lead to a parasitic infection. The most common waterborne parasite is called giardia, and giardia actually afflicts about 3 million people a year.A tapeworm is a type of parasite that can grow up to 30 feet long. Tapeworms attach their suckers to the host's stomach and siphon calories. The only thing their long bodies do is use up the calories they steal. One of the things that folks who have tapeworms complain of is weight loss.
Giardia irritates your intestinal tract, similar to the feeling of a stomach virus. To tell the difference, you can take a blood test or you can watch your poop. Since it affects your ability to absorb food correctly, if you have giardia, your poop will float. That's one of the clues to diagnosing an intestinal parasite. It will destroy the way that you actually digest food.
Giardia is found in a lot of water in the United States, especially water that hasn't been purified or filtered.
The most common reason people get tapeworms is from eating raw meat. That is the main reason humans began to cook their food.
Other parasites may have played huge roles in human history. Some people think that hookworm may have cost the South the Civil War. People who didn't wear shoes were particularly vulnerable to contracting a hookworm infection, sometimes called "Southern anemia," which left the host weakened. Because many Southerners who didn't wear shoes as children developed "Southern anemia," they grew up to be poor choices to be Confederate soldiers. Meanwhile many Northern children wore leather shoes growing up and never contracted hookworm and remained healthy.
Why should I see a travel medicine specialist before my next trip?
Elif Oker, MD, Emergency Medicine, answered
A travel medicine specialist will offer you information specific to your destination including advice on immunizations, safe hygiene and health precautions to take, ways to self-treat illness while on the road and where to go to seek health care at your destination.
These services are particularly helpful if you are traveling to developing countries and areas where there is higher risk for diseases such as malaria and typhoid.
Be sure to check with your insurance company to see what services from a travel clinic are covered.
Also consider speaking with your doctor as you make your decision on whether or not to seek the advice of a travel medicine specialist. Your doctor may be able to refer you to a reputable travel clinic.
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