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Zit-causing bug bears Frank Zappa's name
Frank Zappa's name has been bestowed on jellyfish, spiders and an asteroid -- and now, an acne-causing bacterium.
February 18th, 2014
05:04 PM ET

Zit-causing bug bears Frank Zappa's name

In 1968, Rolling Stone reported on how Frank Zappa influenced the Beatles. Nearly 50 years later, Zappa has inspired scientists to name a acne-causing bug after him.

Sound weird? Actually, it’s not. All kinds of beetles (Steven Colbert, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld), plants (Princess Diana orchid, President Obama moss ) and animals (John Cleese's wooly lemur ) are just some of the organisms named after celebrities.

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Filed under: Conditions • Germs

Best ways to prevent and treat the common cold
January 27th, 2014
01:59 PM ET

Best ways to prevent and treat the common cold

Although the world of medicine has made incredible progress when it comes to tackling certain illnesses, scientists still have not been able to find the cure for the common cold. But there are ways to prevent colds as well as treat them. The question is, which are the most effective?

According to a review in the recent edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, hand washing and possibly taking zinc seem to be the best ways to avoid getting sick. Investigators reviewed 67 randomized controlled trials that showed hand washing as well as alcohol disinfectants are the best ways to ward off colds.

Zinc was found to work mostly in children, with two trials showing that little ones who took 10 to 12 milligrams of zinc sulfate every day had fewer colds and fewer absences from school because of colds. Authors of the study suggest that zinc could work for adults. Vitamin C, the "gold standard" of cold fighters, did not seem as effective.

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Copper in hospital rooms may stop infections
Researchers installed copper alloy surfaces in the areas of the ICU room shown above.
May 14th, 2013
04:12 PM ET

Copper in hospital rooms may stop infections

Hospital-acquired infections are a huge problem in the United States. Wouldn't it be amazing if they could be prevented merely through the materials used in the hospital room?

Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina explored covering key surfaces in hospital intensive care units in copper alloy, and found that this is an effective measure against the spread of some key types of bacterial infections. Their study is published in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

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Beware the germs in pools
A pre-swim shower can help keep swimming healthy for everyone in the pool this summer.
May 28th, 2012
11:38 AM ET

Beware the germs in pools

It's almost the beginning of summer and you know what that means: Swim season is here. But beware. No matter how clean they may look, public pools could have nasty germs lurking in the water causing them to be more like public bathrooms.

A recent survey conducted by the Water Quality and Health Council found one in five Americans admit to using a public pool for quick relief (urinating) and seven in 10 confessed to skipping a shower before going for a swim.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a pre-swim shower removes sweat, cosmetics and other dirt that could mix with chlorine to create irritants in pool water.

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What the Yuck: Is the hand-sanitizer pump dirty?
January 21st, 2012
03:24 PM ET

What the Yuck: Is the hand-sanitizer pump dirty?

Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, "What the Yuck?!," Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send 'em to Dr. Raj at whattheyuck@health.com.

Q: How dirty is the pump of hand-sanitizing gel in my doctor’s office, at the gym, and in other public places?

A: Frankly, the part of the pump your finger touches is probably pretty nasty, but the hand sanitizer you’re pumping out should get rid of any germs.

To be extra safe, use a tissue or pull down your shirt to press on the gel dispenser. Better yet, carry your own bottle, and use it often.

And when in doubt, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Overall, that simple move is the best way to keep your hands germ-free.


Modern plague has origins in Black Death, scientists say
Scientists found bacterial DNA in teeth from medieval skulls like this one, from the Museum of London.
October 12th, 2011
01:00 PM ET

Modern plague has origins in Black Death, scientists say

As the rains raged on in 1340s Europe, most of the crops rotted, leading to food shortages in a colder environment. Amidst the malnourished population, rodents, fleas and perhaps even lice were spreading a disease that had most likely never before infected humankind, and would wipe out up to half of Europe within five years.

This is the vision of the Black Death that scientists put forth in a new study in the journal Nature. For the first time ever, they have reconstructed the genome of an ancient disease based on skeletal remains.

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What the Yuck: Frequent flyer sickness
October 7th, 2011
09:56 AM ET

What the Yuck: Frequent flyer sickness

Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, "What the Yuck?!," Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send 'em to Dr. Raj at whattheyuck@health.com.

I have to travel a lot for my new job. Will I get sick more often if I’m a frequent flyer?

Actually, the recycled air on planes is probably better for you than most air in office buildings. It’s well filtered before it’s blown back out.
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Medieval plague bacteria strain probably extinct
This flea, X. cheopis, is responsible for transmitting the bacteria strain that causes plague.
August 30th, 2011
05:34 PM ET

Medieval plague bacteria strain probably extinct

Modern  outbreaks – swine flu, bird flu, SARS – have been scary and deadly, but they don't hold a candle to a plague called the Black Death. The disease killed an estimated one-third of Europe's population, perhaps 100 million people.

It's been a while, but scientists are now figuring out what caused the Black Death - at least, the one that swept through Europe from 1347 to 1351. They found evidence of the bacterium Yersinia pestis in the teeth of some of the medieval victims of the plague. Results are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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What the Yuck: Does flying make me sick?
July 8th, 2011
12:23 PM ET

What the Yuck: Does flying make me sick?

Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, "What the Yuck?!," Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send 'em to Dr. Raj at whattheyuck@health.com.

I have to travel a lot for my new job. Will I get sick more often if I'm a frequent flyer?

That's a good question - more and more of us worry about coming down with something from the recycled air on planes. But actually, that air is probably better for you than most air in office buildings. It's well filtered before it's blown back out, so it shouldn't make you sick.
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What the Yuck: Gym machine germs
June 24th, 2011
08:02 AM ET

What the Yuck: Gym machine germs

Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, "What the Yuck?!," Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send 'em to Dr. Raj at whattheyuck@health.com.

Q: What's the worst thing you can catch from the machines at the gym?

Probably the worst thing is the staph bacteria MRSA (short for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), the "superbug" that can cause a very aggressive and difficult-to-treat skin infection, which can invade the blood.

This bug, which is resistant to most kinds of antibiotics, is spread through close contact - athletes on a sports team sometimes spread it to each other. What's scary is it can survive on gym machines between users. Wipe the equipment off with an antibacterial wipe before using it.

And if you have any open sores or wounds or skin irritation, stay away from the machines because your broken skin will make you more vulnerable to contracting something.


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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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