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Jason Tetro

Microbiology, Health & Hygiene Expert

Since he was a teenager, Jason Tetro has called the laboratory his second home. His experience in microbiology and immunology has taken him into several fields including bloodborne, food and water pathogens; environmental microbiology; disinfection and antisepsis; and emerging pathogens such as SARS, avian flu, and Zika virus. He currently is a visiting scientist at the University of Guelph.

In the public, Jason is better known as The Germ Guy, and regularly offers his at times unconventional perspective on science in the media. Jason has written two books, The Germ Code, which was shortlisted as Science Book of The Year (2014) and The Germ Files, which spent several weeks on the national bestseller list. He has also co-edited, The Human Microbiome Handbook, which provides an academic perspective on the impact of microbes in human health. He lives in Toronto.
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How Microbes Add Misery to Chronic Sinus Issues

Medically speaking, the condition is called chronic rhinosinusitis and for decades, it has been a mystery. What starts off as the signs of a cold or allergy soon becomes a rather complicated problem for which there are few treatments and even less cures. Most of the time, medications are prescribed but some cases become so dire surgery is needed to help a person finally breathe clear. What makes this ailment so frustrating is the lack of a proper cause. The list of suspects includes genetics, cigarette smoke, and allergies.
08/30/2015 10:28 EDT
Shutterstock / vitstudio

DNA May Be the Hard Drive of the Future

Last week, a story appeared that seemed to come out of the pages of a science fiction novel. A team of researchers in Switzerland developed a new way to store digital data. Instead of hard drives, chips, or crystals, they used the genetic material found in all living organisms, DNA. On top of that, they were able to show the information could last for at least 2,000 years.
08/24/2015 08:19 EDT
Elena Elisseeva

Eating Local Can Help Avoid This Parasite

This past week, another microbial outbreak made the Canadian headlines. This time, the cause was a parasite with a name that sounds like a comic book supervillain, Cyclospora. It's officially known as a protozoan and in the last few months, caused 83 cases with a few requiring hospitalization. From a public health perspective, Cyclospora has for the most part spread under the radar of the media. Despite the apparent novelty of the infection right now, the parasite has been a common visitor to Canada and had made many visits in the last 20 years.
08/16/2015 10:31 EDT
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How Bacteria Could Help Weight Loss Surgery Success

Controlling obesity is never an easy prospect and for some, the best option is to undergo bariatric surgery. The practice has been around since the 1960s and involves restricting the volume of the stomach either with a band or through surgical removal of a large part of the stomach organ. There's also another factor in determining the benefit of this surgery: the microbes living in the gut. The tens of trillions of bacteria can also be affected by the change. Although this was known hypothetically for years, in 2010, it was shown for the first time.
08/09/2015 10:31 EDT
Fuse

We Now Know the Reasons Behind "Fearbola"

It's been less than a year since the dreaded Ebola virus appeared on North American soil. In a matter of a few weeks, the virus went from being someone else's problem to a homeland threat. In the process, media headlines captured the attention of millions and struck fear into most of them. But Fearbola, as it was coined, was completely unnecessary. Last week, a report came out detailing exactly how the public responded to the Ebola crisis in the United States.
08/04/2015 12:31 EDT
Fuse

We Now Know the Reasons Behind "Fearbola"

It's been less than a year since the dreaded Ebola virus appeared on North American soil. In a matter of a few weeks, the virus went from being someone else's problem to a homeland threat. In the process, media headlines captured the attention of millions and struck fear into most of them. But Fearbola, as it was coined, was completely unnecessary. Last week, a report came out detailing exactly how the public responded to the Ebola crisis in the United States.
08/04/2015 12:31 EDT
by sharaff via Getty Images

How Fish Oil Can Be Sourced From Weeds

Long before the health movement became popular, fish oil was recognized as a healthy part of a nutritious diet. The actual benefit didn't really become known until the 1970s when ingestion of these oils apparently led to better cardiovascular health. Within a few decades, the oil (as well as the fish itself) was suggested as a means to keep heart disease at bay. Today, we know of several chemicals contained within the oil that improve our health. Some of the best are the omega-3 fatty acids.
07/19/2015 11:52 EDT
ASSOCIATED PRESS

This Bacterium May Improve Food Security

Last week, a team of Malaysian scientists introduced a fermenting bacterium with the ability to protect food without the need for batches. Based on the results of the study, in the future, all that may be needed is a quick spray and the food would be safe from microbial spoilers.
07/12/2015 09:41 EDT
Shutterstock / Elena Elisseeva

Visiting A Hospital? Clean Your Hands!

When you walk into a hospital or healthcare facility, you can't help but notice how the environment has changed over the years. In the last decade, the industry responsible for our health has taken great strides to improve hygiene. Hand sanitizer stations are everywhere, certain rooms are marked with a variety of notices, and signs regarding handwashing are in every public bathroom. This is all part of infection prevention and control, or IPC.
07/05/2015 10:29 EDT
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Celebrating Beer, a True Microbial Tradition

A tradition that has stood the test of time in Canada and the United States is a love for the yeast-brewed, amber, foamy liquid known universally as beer. It doesn't matter where you are in these countries, you can always be sure to find at least one place where you can grab a pint, mug, bottle or can. The microbial manufacturer responsible for beer, yeast, loves to evolve. Many strains have changed over the years as have the tastes of their final outcomes. However, there is one strain of yeast that has remained exactly the same for over 100 years.
06/29/2015 12:39 EDT
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How The Bacteria Up Your Nose Affects Your Health

But viruses are not the only microbes capable of finding their way into the sinuses. A number of bacteria are also capable of not only living in this moist region, but thriving there as well. This collection is known as the nasal microbiome.
06/21/2015 09:04 EDT

Is it Time to Re-Examine the Safety of Our Drinking Water?

In many areas of Canada, like Ontario, the levels of potentially pathogenic microbes can flourish and overwhelm our water treatment system leading to boil water orders or worse, outbreaks. These moments are thankfully rare in part to the addition of a particular chemical, chlorine. For decades, chlorine has been used to keep drinking water safe and is standard practice in many parts of Canada and the world. But it's not a perfect system and faces many hurdles. The most important of these is ensuring water is safe over the tens to hundreds of kilometres of pipes from the facility to the tap.
06/14/2015 10:55 EDT
Corel

Bioconcrete May Be The Future of Construction

Bioconcrete is nearly at the tipping point and appears to be just a few months to years away from being the next wave of concrete development. Although this may start off as a fad, there is good reason to hope it lasts.
05/31/2015 09:25 EDT
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This Natural Chemical May Replace Triclosan and Improve Oral Health

Triclosan is the main ingredient in "antibacterial" soaps. It has the ability to kill as well as prevent the growth of harmful microbes. Over the years, the shine of triclosan has faded due to a combination of problems found in the lab. A natural alternative to triclosan has been growing in both presence and popularity.
05/25/2015 08:03 EDT
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The Zombie Apocalypse Is Real! For Microbes at Least

Last week, an Israeli team of researchers revealed how a bacterial species can become a "zombie" and then spread it to others causing an apocalypse. Making this observation even more interesting was what they used to trigger the outbreak. It wasn't a living organism. Instead, it was a chemical: silver.
05/10/2015 11:10 EDT
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Celebrating Hand Hygiene Day Is Good for Your Health

Disinfection keeps our environment clean. Social distancing allows us to stay clear of those who are contagious. Then there is the use of barrier protection, such as masks, gloves, and yes, condoms, to prevent any chance of a pathogen from harming us. But the best and by far the easiest is a short and sweet practice known as hand hygiene.
05/04/2015 07:25 EDT