Monday, February 12, 2007

Arma Virumque Cano

Actually, it is the Washington Post science writer Rob Stein who sings a fascinatingly disgusting story of arms and the man – research about the "virtual zoo" of microbes festering on the human body's largest organ.

Yes, it's the skin.

Stein writes that swabbing the forearms of three healthy men and three healthy women
"revealed that human skin is populated by a diverse assortment of bacteria, including many previously unknown species, offering the first detailed peek at this potentially crucial ecosystem.

"The work is part of a broader effort by a small coterie of scientists to better understand the microbial world that populates the human body. Virtually every orifice and the digestive tract are swarming with bacteria, fungi and other microbes. By some estimates, only one out of every 10 cells in the body is human."

The analysis by New York University's Martin Blaser found 182 species of microorganisms, of which 30 had never been seen before. Months later, a swab of four of the six volunteers found 65 more species, 14 of them heretofore unknown, and some of the old ones long gone.

So when it comes to the symbiosis between microbes and humans, the cliché must be turned on its head because, now, forearmed is forewarned.

1 comment:

  1. My adult daughter recently got a neck to knee, solid red rash that is now peeling down layer after layer. The dermie said it could be any of 20 viruses--and where her coworker got a cough from it, she got this. Ick! It's a jungle in here!