Mad Cow Blood Test
Week of August 18

A cow I was craving a hamburger until I realized we were going to be discussing mad cow disease. But frankly, we should be more concerned about blood transfusions that are contaminated with the misfolded proteins which cause the fatal brain disorder.

So far two hundred people in Europe have died from variant Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease or vCJD which people developed after eating contaminated beef. It’s killed four people in the US and since carriers can be asymptomatic for up to fifty years, they can spread it by donating blood... More »

Double Dip Yuck
Week of August 11

Friends sharing chips and dipYou invariably see it happen at get-togethers: double dipping. As microbiologists, we know that’s risky business – not to mention yucky business!

Let’s start with a dip vehicle, the cracker. Scientists discovered once a cracker has been bitten, it carries a thousand times more bacteria than an unbitten one. To test what happens when you dip them, they used commercial chunky hot salsa, chocolate syrup, and cheddar cheese dip produced by well-known companies... More »


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