(Evangelyn Rodriguez) The bacterium known as Helicobacter pylori is notorious for its ability to colonize humans and cause stomach ulcers. While an H. pylori infection rarely causes any symptoms, there are some cases where the bacterium causes open sores to form in the stomach or triggers severe inflammation — an event that could eventually lead to gastric cancer.
(Mac Slavo) The Pentagon’s DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) wants to be able to spread genetically modified bacteria as “explosives sensors.” The United States government could very well be looking into ways to militarize microbes.
Many depression sufferers also suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and a small study suggests that taking probiotics may ease both conditions.
Researchers from McMaster University in Canada conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled trial that uncovered a link between probiotics and mood improvement in 44 adults with IBS and mild to moderate depression or anxiety. The study also showed that probiotics caused changes in regions of the brain related to emotional processing. 
For the study, participants were divided into two groups and followed for 10 weeks. Half of the subjects took a daily dose of the probiotic Bifidobacteriumlongum, and the other half took a placebo.
After 6 weeks, 64% of those who took probiotics had decreased depression scores, compared to 32% of those who took a placebo.
Functional MRI scans revealed that improved depression scores were associated with changes in several areas of the brain involved in mood regulation. The authors wrote that those changes “support the notion that this probiotic has anti-depressive properties.” 
The findings did not indicate that those in the probiotic group experienced statistically significant independent changes in anxiety, constipation, diarrhea, or pain. But those in the probiotic group did report improvements in overall symptoms of IBS and in quality of life.
“In a placebo-controlled trial, we found that the probiotic BL reduces depression but not anxiety scores and increases quality of life in patients with IBS. These improvements were associated with changes in brain activation patterns that indicate that this probiotic reduces limbic reactivity,” the study concluded.
One explanation for the improved depression scores could be that as their physical symptoms improved, their emotional symptoms followed suit. But Dr. Roger McIntyre, professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the University of Toronto, thinks it’s more likely that the probiotics may actually be working on the brain itself.
“We know that one part of the brain, the amygdala, tends to be red hot in people with depression, and it seemed to cool down with this intervention. It provides more scientific believability that something in the brain, at a very biological level, seems to be affected by this probiotic.” 
Gastroenterologist and lead researcher Premysl Bercik, M.D., added:
“This study shows that consumption of a specific probiotic can improve both gut symptoms and psychological issues in IBS. This opens new avenues not only for the treatment of patients with functional bowel disorders but also for patients with primary psychiatric diseases.” 
Antidepressants are known to disturb “good” gut bacteria, so probiotic supplements – which produced few side effects in the study – could be a safe, natural way to treat depression.
The probiotics were manufactured and provided by Nestlé, which also funded the study. The food company reportedly was not involved in collection, analysis, or interpretation of the study data.
Flies are kind of disgusting, and definitely annoying. Since they’re so small and incredibly common, you might just swat them away when they land on your food and keep eating, but a study reveals that the little nuisances are even germier than previously thought. In fact, they can carry hundreds of different types of bacteria on their legs and wings. Cause for concern, or just disgustingly interesting? 
Researcher Donald Bryant of Penn State University said:
“People had some notion that there were pathogens that were carried by flies but had no idea of the extent to which this is true and the extent to which they are transferred.” 
“[The study] will really make you think twice about eating that potato salad that’s been sitting out at your next picnic. We believe that this may show a mechanism for pathogen transmission that has been overlooked by public health officials, and flies may contribute to the rapid transmission of pathogens in outbreak situations.”
For the study, researchers from Penn State, Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro looked at data from 16 houseflies and blowflies collected from 3 different continents and sequenced the animals’ DNA to study their microbes.
The team found that houseflies carried about 351 different bacteria species, and the blowflies carried approximately 316. Both types of flies carried some of the same strains of bacteria.
The most common bacteria was determined to be Helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori, which can cause ulcers in the gut. Prior to the study, scientists hadn’t considered flies as a means of transmission for the bacteria.
Professor of genetics and genomics, Ana Carolina Junqueira said:
“This is the first study that depicts the entire microbial DNA content of insect vectors using unbiased methods.
Blowflies and houseflies are considered major mechanical vectors worldwide, but their full potential for microbial transmission was never analyzed comprehensively using modern molecular techniques and deep DNA sequencing.” 
Houseflies and blowflies pose the greatest risk to human health because they feed their young with feces and decaying organic matter, according to study co-author Stephan Schuster.
“The legs and wings show the highest microbial diversity in the fly body, suggesting that bacteria use the flies as airborne shuttles. It may be that bacteria survive their journey, growing and spreading on a new surface. In fact, the study shows that each step of hundreds that a fly has taken leaves behind a microbial colony track, if the new surface supports bacterial growth.”
So the next time you see a fly wobbling back and forth on Grandma’s jello mold, it may be time to reach for the trash can.
A decade after being discovered in Tokyo, a type of fungus that is resistant to multiple drugs is spreading globally, including here in the United States. Scientists don’t know how the “yeast that acts like a bacteria” arrived on America’s shores, but they do know two things: The infection can be fatal, and the fungus is a sign of greater problems to come. 
Surprise: We’re NOT Talking About Antibiotic Resistance
Now, when you think of drug resistance, you might immediately think of antibiotics. But even antifungal medications are failing, researchers have been finding. And this particular fungus, Candida auris, has been making doctors and scientists very nervous.
Many people already have Candida in their bloodstream. The run-of-the-mill version of the fungus is responsible for thrush on the tongue and vaginal yeast infections. Under normal circumstances, Candida is relatively easy to get rid of and causes little harm – mostly discomfort. Regular Candida is also not known for spreading in hospitals and other personal care settings, but C. auris is the exception to the rule.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that C. auris can spread throughout healthcare facilities by lingering on surfaces and medical equipment, and it can be passed from person to person.
When samples of the fungus are sent to the CDC, they are often found to be resistant to 1 or 2 antifungal drugs. However, it can become resistant to another drug while a patient is being treated.
Dr. Tom Chiller, chief of the CDC’s Mycotic Diseases Branch, explained:
“When it becomes resistant, it stays resistant. We’ve seen it become resistant to all three classes of antifungals, making it a superbug, making it really untreatable because there is no drug that kills it.”
As of February 28, 587 clinical cases of C. auris had been confirmed in the United States, according to the CDC, most of them in New York, Illinois, and New Jersey.
The majority of those affected by C. auris are chronically-ill people who acquired the fungus in long-term care facilities, Dr. Susan Bleasdale, director of infection control and antimicrobial stewardship at the University of Illinois Hospital and Clinics, said.
So far, most of the cases Bleasdale has seen were able to be treated with common antifungals. However, she emphasized that the presence of C. auris is further proof that antifungals and antibiotics must be used more judiciously.
“It’s not about using less antibiotics. It’s about using the right antibiotic for the right diagnosis and for the right duration of time.”
Superbugs are a Real Problem
Currently, 2 million people are afflicted with superbugs each year in the U.S., and at least 23,000 of those infections prove fatal. Globally, superbugs strike 700,000 people. But that number could spike to as many as 10 million per year by 2050 if more is not done to tamp down on the problem.
“We live in a world covered by antibiotics. We really need to be thinking hard about how we use those drugs.”
C. Auris Fast Facts
C. auris can cause infections in the ears, the bloodstream, and in wounds, among other places in the body. 
While the estimate is based on a small number of cases, some 30% to 60% of people infected with C. auris have died.
People with weakened immune systems are the most susceptible to Candida auris, particularly if they were exposed to the fungus in long-term healthcare settings. Diabetes, previous surgery, and exposure to multiple antibiotics and antifungals also increase a person’s risk.
New antifungal drugs are currently being tested and show promise in killing C. auris.
(Exploring your Mind) Bacteria have been discovered in the brain, but there is no explanation of how they got there, nor is it known if they’re beneficial or harmful. It’s even suspected that they can influence mood and personality.
(Kelly Brogan, M.D.) Every functional medicine psychiatrist has case stories of the “probiotic cure” – of a patient with debilitating symptoms, often obsessive compulsive range, whose symptoms remitted completely with dietary change and probiotic supplementation. Is this voodoo or is it based on a growing understanding of the role of the microbiome in mental health and behavior?
When you step into the shower, you’re expecting to come out all clean and shiny. But as a study shows, your shower-head may be dumping risky bacteria all over you – bacteria that can even cause lung infections.
You (hopefully) keep your toilet and sink clean, but be honest – you don’t pay all that much attention to your shower-head, do you? You might want to give it a good scrub, though, because researchers found that in some places within the U.S. and Europe, germs known as mycobacteria are found in abundance in shower-heads. These are also the same places where bacterial lung infections are most common. In the U.S., that includes parts of Southern California, Florida, and New York.
Lead study author Matthew Gebert said:
“We live in a world covered in bacteria, and the bacteria in our showerheads follow some interesting geographic trends, and can be altered by our water source and water chemistry.
We’re exposed to microbes constantly in our day-to-day lives, some beneficial, some innocuous, and a few potentially harmful.”
Shower-heads and water distribution systems are teeming with bacteria, and while most of them are harmless, some of them can cause lung infections. The presence of mycobacteria doesn’t mean you’ll get sick or that you’re more likely to develop an infection, but if you’re already susceptible to infections, you should get to cleaning.
Though the study couldn’t even say with any certainty whether a person with a lung infection got it from their shower or not, that doesn’t mean it’s not important to make the public aware of their presence.
“We don’t want people rushing home and throwing away their shower-heads or obsessively cleaning them every day, nor should anyone change their showering habits – swallowing the water is OK.”
Please, don’t stop bathing.
For the study, Gebert and his colleagues analyzed shower-heads from homes across the U.S. and Europe. They found tons of bacteria, though the types they detected varied by location and by the chemistry of the water and its source.
One surprising finding was that homes whose water was treated with chlorine actually had higher levels of certain germs.
“I don’t think there are necessarily any negative implications from our study. But because bacteria that can cause illness live in our showerheads, it’s important to understand how people can be exposed to them.”
Shower-heads, after all, are wet, and bacteria thrive in moist conditions. They form colonies, like mushrooms, and thrive in water. 
There are about 200 species of mycobacteria that occur naturally in the environment. Most non-tuberculous strains of the bacteria are harmless. Some, however, can cause nontuberculous lung infections, which are an increasing threat to public health.
(Geopolitics) Russia does it again! In another groundbreaking feat, Russian scientists found a way to neutralize nuclear radioactivity through bacterial intervention. This is exactly in line with their previous announcement about an industrial method pertaining to the transmutation of elements via biochemical approach.