Take your pick of the noses found in the news

Maybe I am the only one who has noticed, but noses have been in the news a lot lately. Usually you don’t hear a lot about them unless some boxer gets his/hers broken during a major fight or some Hollywood type pays to get hers/his re-done through a medical cosmetic procedure. Either way, altered appearances result.

Aside from sports injuries and cosmetic alterations, the nose is ignored as long as it is functional and remains outside of other people’s business. However, that changes when the nose is suddenly discovered to hold the powers of life and death. Plain as the nose on your face, it makes it more difficult to ignore. The potential is that great.

How great? Well, recently in Kelly Warm Spring, Wyoming, in the Grand Teton National Park, a parasitic, brain-eating amoeba “turned up”. Makes it sound as if these fearsome little organisms showed up carrying luggage and sporting road dust, like typical unwanted guests or party-crashers. But seeing as they were microscopic, you’ve got to wonder just how they were spotted and what signaled their presence. Do park officials routinely check for parasitic, brain-eating amoeba?

What was clear was that their preferred travel route to an all-you-can-eat brain buffet was along the same snot-coated highway favored by all the other irritating organisms noses regularly try to expel. Apparently the sighting of the single-celled, microscopic Naegleria fowleri amoeba in the Western U.S. is an anomaly, as it’s usually found in the south. In fact, the article I read stated an 11-year-old girl in South Carolina recently lost her life to it.

However, with tourism the demanding mistress it is, instead of closing to the public the popular Kelly Warm Spring, where the amoeba was found, National Park officials instead went the warning route and posted disclaimer signs. Really?! As if the same public that regularly ignores “Wet Paint” and “Keep Off the Grass” signs will have enough brain cells to protect the rest of them by avoiding further potential brain-reducing consequences.

Grand Teton spokesperson Denise Germann was actually quoted as saying, “We definitely encourage people not to put your head in the water, jump in – anything that would help the amoeba travel to your brain.” Sounds like the ultimate fraternity dare, doesn’t it? Perhaps some of the National Park officials have already been exposed to Naegleria fowleri. That might explain their self-serving failure to protect anything beyond tourism.

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the schnoz spectrum and world, German scientists have discovered a “good” bacteria in human noses that produces a powerful antibiotic “lugdunin” (derivative of the word “luggie” or “loogie”?) that is strong enough to kill some of the more dangerous skin infections, including those caused by MRSA bacteria. This is especially important, as MRSA has proven to be resistant to several medications. MRSA is also known to infect the bloodstream and the lining of the heart. Yikes!

Apparently only 10% of people’s noses house the lugdunin-producing staph bacteria. I found that wording interesting. Why not just say 10% of people have the bacteria in their noses? Are there people with more than one nose? Hmm. I know a few individuals nosy enough to qualify, at least socially, if not physiologically. But I digress. Back to the researchers, who have discovered Lugdunin also kills dangerous VRE bacteria.

All this fills me with questions, chiefly, how would we go about harvesting nasal bacteria? I just ran a blood drive and it’s hard enough to recruit people when blood is drawn from the arm. I hesitate to imagine who would volunteer to have his/her nose professionally picked!

While I’m no scientist, I am pretty resourceful at match-making. Maybe the two nose research communities need to get together and compare nasal notes. I’m guessing lugdunin could kick some serious Naegleria fowleri butt in the Grand Tetons. Why not give free Kelly Warm Spring super soaker vacations to several 10% people with the right snuff stuff?

What have they got to lose, except their minds? Those will go in time, anyway, so why not put brain cells on the line for something more important than altered appearance results. For science’s sake. Pick for the cure!

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