Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Worst Job Ever-- Feces Piper

As a huge fan of the Discovery Channel, I've seen many episodes of Dirty Jobs and yes, artificially inseminating a horse or inspecting the San Francisco sewer would be awful.  But I would never, ever - under any circumstances - be a feces piper.  Allow me to explain...

Have you heard of the term, "superbug"?  It is the informal name for a bacterium that carries several resistance genes that are impervious to most antibiotics.  The rise of superbugs means that antibiotics are no longer getting the job done.

Clostridium difficile, for instance, infects as many as half a million Americans a year, causing diarrhea, blood poisoning and kidney failure, and leads to 5,000 to 20,000 deaths annually.

A potential cure? Introducing healthy poo into an infected patient’s gut to help recolonize the body with good, microbe-fighting bugs. The procedure is called a fecal transplant and it typically involves collecting and processing stool from a healthy relative and feeding it through a nasal tube into the patient’s small intestine.

Of course, someone needs to administer the transplant, hence the feces piper.  The worst part?  Besides the smell you can't wash off and the stress of lying to everyone about your day job- your efforts might futile. 

Only observational evidence—no controlled studies—suggests that the procedure is effective, and doctors worry that shared poo could transmit hard-to-detect diseases.


Props to Popular Science for the artwork

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