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Microbes that live at the gym are pumped up on antibiotic resistance




When environmental engineer Erica Hartmann hits the gym, she sees the floor where people lie down to do crunches as the perfect place to test dust for microbes.

You may think of dust as dead. But dust actually teems with bacteria because it acts as a final resting place for everything drifting through the air.

At a gym, people are often encouraged to wipe down the weights and machines with a sanitizer. One antimicrobial ingredient called triclosan stops the growth of bacteria, fungus and mildew as well as deodorizes.

Manufacturers add triclosan to a variety of products, such as antibacterial soap, knife handles and textiles.

“What’s happening to the bacteria in dust with all the antimicrobial chemicals?” Hartmann wondered.

In a new study, she and her team at Northwestern University in Illinois discovered dust in gyms is not only alive, but shows signs of antibiotic resistance.

Triclosan is a germ-killing ingredient found in antibacterial liquid soaps, body washes and a variety of household products from cutting boards to toys. (Kiichiro Sato/Associated Press)

The scientists first took samples of vacuum-collected dust from gyms at 42 athletic facilities in Oregon, including private fitness clubs, public recreation centres and studios for dance, yoga and martial arts.

Hartmann and her colleagues were able to grow more than 7,000 colonies of different types of bacteria. “I was a little overwhelmed” at the result, she said.

In Tuesday’s issue of the journal mSystems, Hartmann reported about 30 per cent of the bacteria were resistant to one of three medically relevant antibiotic drugs.

About 100 years ago, infectious diseases were one of the leading causes of death. Now, thanks to proper sanitation of water and antibiotic drugs, infectious diseases are way down the list of top killers in Canada.

Hartmann suspects we’ve swung too far when it comes to sanitation. It’s overkill, she says, like building an atomic bomb to go after one bad germ.

Antibacterial resistance happens when drugs kill some bacteria, but not all of them. Some remaining bugs evolve ways to protect themselves and thrive. When that occurs, people can develop infections that are much harder to treat.

The discs show bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. (Taylor Brown/Northwestern University)

When scientists first synthesized new compounds, it was assumed that the chemicals would be inactive in the environment. Hartmann said scientists are just starting to appreciate the full consequences of synthesizing chemicals, such as how they can affect microbial ecosystems.  

When we introduce synthetic chemicals such as triclosan, she says, the bacteria see a ready-made food source to exploit.  “Bacteria are just trying to make a living.” 

The study doesn’t prove triclosan causes antibiotic resistance. The researchers found genetic markers indicating antibiotic resistance in general, not resistance to triclosan specifically. Nonetheless, “the associations we see are quite suspicious,” Hartmann said.

When triclosan is used in personal care products, it leaves a long-lasting residue on indoor dust. Overall, the residues at the gym aren’t a major threat, she said. “If you compare antibiotic resistance in any environment compared with the human gut, there’s way more in the human gut.”

If a patient in an industrialized country develops an antibiotic resistant infection while in hospital, those infections are  tracked by governments and the World Health Organization. But infections acquired outside of a health-care facility often don’t get reported, so it’s hard to say what infections are coming from where and what the true cause is, Hartmann said.

That’s why the overall magnitude of the problem of antibiotic resistance traced to dust is unknown.

Soap and water recommended

But given how antibiotic resistance is a huge threat to public health right now, she has a suggestion for consumers: “Antibiotic hand soap is not necessary. Regular soap and water is perfectly fine.”

Until 2017 in the U.S., manufacturers commonly added triclosan to antibacterial hand soap and cleaning solutions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned companies from selling antibacterial hand washes with triclosan because the manufacturers didn’t prove the ingredients “are both safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections.”

In 2012, Health Canada and Environment Canada reviewed triclosan and proposed that industry voluntarily cut the amount it uses, particularly in personal-care products that tend to get rinsed away into lakes and rivers.

In the U.S., triclosan is still found in wipes people use at the gym as well as in toothpaste and many consumer products like cutting boards and toys that aren’t necessarily labelled because the products are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, not the FDA.

Environment Canada deems triclosan highly toxic to a variety of aquatic organisms, such as algae and fish, as well as to certain soil organisms.

“At current levels of exposure, triclosan is not harmful to human health,” the Canadian government reiterated last month.  

The federal government proposed a pollution prevention plan to limit the presence of triclosan in Canadian waterways. The proposal is open to public comments until Jan. 23, a spokesperson for Health Canada said.

Fears of bacteria overblown

Hartmann said if triclosan affects ecosystems, it will eventually affect human health. Regulators typically evaluate substances by acute toxicity, such as how much you can feed a rat before it keels over and dies.

She’d like to see regulators pay more attention to potentially chronic effects of chemicals that could take decades to appear, particularly in the case of microbial ecosystems that influence antibiotic resistance and eventually human health.

“My position has always been that [triclosan] is unnecessary in a home and that we shouldn’t be using such potent chemicals to assuage our fears of bacteria,” said Dr. Kapil Khatter, a family physician in Ottawa and formerly executive director of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.

He said triclosan makes sense where sterility is essential, such as in health-care settings, but not for broader use in households or gyms. 

Researchers at the University of Oregon, Arizona State University, the Santa Fe Institute and Harvard also worked on the study.

The research was partially supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a philanthropic non-profit organization established by the former head of General Motors.


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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high




(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine




(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states




In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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