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Cottonelle wipes recalled due to possible bacteria contamination

A consumer product in heavy demand during the pandemic is being recalled due to the possible presence of bacteria. 

Kimberly-Clark is recalling specific lots of Cottonelle wet wipes sold nationwide because they could be contaminated with bacteria that can cause infections in people, according to the household goods maker.

Billed as having the “texture and the cleansing power of water to deliver long-lasting freshness,” the affected products include Cottonelle Flushable Wipes and Cottonell GentlePlus Flushable wipes manufactured between February 7, 2020, and September 14, 2020, and could contain the bacterium Pluralibacter gergoviae, the company announced Friday.

“At this time there is a low rate of non-serious complaints, such as irritation and minor infection, reported for the affected wipes,” Kimberly-Clark said. 

Those with weakened immune systems or who have serious pre-existing conditions are at particular risk of infection, it added. 

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Recalled product packaging.

Kimberly-Clark


The wipes are sold broadly in the U.S. and Canada and the Caribbean. Consumers can check whether they’ve purchased the recalled product by looking for the specific lot numbers on the bottom of the package and checking them online here. 

Or  consumers can call the company at (800) 414-0165 or by using the ‘Contact Us’ button at the top of its web page Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT.

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Turning to dirt in the fight against drug-resistant bacteria

Think about aphids — those little, green, garden-destroying bugs. The bane of the begonia. But aphids exist in an ecosystem. Which is to say, those little suckers have enemies. When gardeners see aphids, it’s often ladybugs to the rescue.



Chemical biologist Sean Brady at The Rockefeller University in New York City and his team in 2018 discovered new antibiotics, called malacidins, by applying genetic sequencing techniques to bacteria in soil samples.


© Zach Veilleux/The Rockefeller University
Chemical biologist Sean Brady at The Rockefeller University in New York City and his team in 2018 discovered new antibiotics, called malacidins, by applying genetic sequencing techniques to bacteria in soil samples.

There is another plague out there right now: the antibiotic-resistant bacteria currently making a home in our health care system that kills thousands each year.

But by thinking like a gardener and looking to the ecosystem those microbes originally came from, we may be able to find new ways to fight them.

For instance, researchers at Vanderbilt University recently unearthed a new kind of chemical compound that may one day help fight off antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The source? Dirt.

Dirt, it turns out, contains an entire microbial ecosystem, with a wealth of intriguing compounds. And while there are major hurdles between discovering a new drug and using it, scientists are hopeful new techniques could pay off.

Stuck in the mud

Antibiotic-resistant microbes, commonly called superbugs, have become a major health problem across the world. More than 2.8 million infections happen every year in the United States alone; more than 35,000 people will die from those infections.

The answer for an infection is often antibiotics. Or stronger antibiotics.

But we’re not the original inventor of this class of compounds — for time immemorial, antibiotics have been deployed by the microbes themselves. Microbes, such as the myriad species of fungi, bacteria and other critters that live in the soil, live in a complex ecosystem where chemical defenses are often necessary in order to fend off or attack competitors.

In fact, soil was actually one of the great historical sources for new antibiotics.

“The vast majority of antibiotics we use today come from growing bacteria out of soil,” said Sean Brady, a chemical biologist and professor at The Rockefeller University in New York City. Though we came up with ways to make them ourselves, it was in dirt that these antibiotics were first discovered.

Streptomycin, which is often used to treat tuberculosis, came from a sample of New Jersey soil back in the 1940s, for instance.

At the time, a wealth of new medicines seemed just within reach.

Unfortunately, it turned out that soil microbes are finicky. Only a handful grow well in traditional laboratory setups, and what we could get out of them was limited. Stuck discovering the same compounds over and over again, the pharmaceutical industry’s focus shifted to tweaking the antibiotics we already had.

Returning to our roots

However, in the last few years, a number of researchers have been going back to the soil with new techniques.

One potential breakthrough came when Kim Lewis, a microbiologist and university distinguished professor at Northeastern University, and his colleague Slava Epstein, a professor of biology, figured

A virus and bacteria may ‘team up’ to harm babies’ brains

A newly discovered bacteria may be working with a common virus to cause a serious brain condition in infants in Uganda, according to a new study.

This brain disorder, called hydrocephalus, involves an abnormal buildup of fluid in the cavities of the brain and is the most common reason for brain surgery in young children, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Every year, about 400,000 new cases of hydrocephalus are diagnosed in children worldwide, and the condition remains a major burden in low- and middle-income countries, according to the study published today (Sept. 30) in the journal Science Translational Medicine

About half of those hydrocephalus cases happen after a prior infection and are known as “post-infectious hydrocephalus,” according to the study. But until now, scientists didn’t know what microbes were infecting infants, and identifying those pathogens is key to preventing the condition, according to the authors.

Related: The 12 deadliest viruses on Earth

For nearly 20 years, a small hospital in Uganda called the CURE Children’s hospital has been treating thousands of cases of hydrocephalus in children.

“Hydrocephalus is the most common childhood neurosurgical condition that we see in the population that we serve,” one of the lead authors Dr. Edith Mbabazi-Kabachelor, director of research, CURE Children’s Hospital of Uganda said in a statement. If left untreated in children younger than 2 years of age, hydrocephalus will increase head size, leading to brain damage; the majority of those children will die, and the others will be left with physical or cognitive disabilities, she added. 

So a group of international researchers set out to understand what could be causing this brain condition.

“Thirteen years ago, while visiting Uganda and seeing a stream of kids with hydrocephalus after infection I asked the doctors, ‘What is the biggest problem you have that you can’t solve?'” one of the senior authors Steven J. Schiff, Brush Chair professor of engineering and professor of engineering science and mechanics, neurosurgery and physics at Penn State, said in the statement. “‘Why don’t you figure out what makes these kids sick?’ was the reply.”

CT brain scans of infants with hydrocephalus show differences in the brains of those with post-infectious hydrocephalus (PIH), non-postinfectious hydrocephalus (NPIH), infection with the bacteria Paenibacillus (Paeni) or infection with the virus cytomegalovirus (CMV).

CT brain scans of infants with hydrocephalus show differences in the brains of those with post-infectious hydrocephalus (PIH), non-post-infectious hydrocephalus (NPIH), infection with the bacteria Paenibacillus (Paeni) or infection with the virus cytomegalovirus (CMV). (Image credit: J.N. Paulson et al., Science Translational Medicine (2020))

Schiff and his team analyzed blood and cerebrospinal fluid from 100 infants under 3 months old being treated at the CURE Children’s hospital for hydrocephalus — 64 of them developed the condition after an infection (doctors knew they had been infected because the babies either had severe illness, seizures or brain imaging showed signs of a prior infection) and 36 without a prior infection (brain images and other tests showed another issue causing the condition such as tumors or cysts).

They sent these samples to two different labs for DNA and RNA sequencing to look for possible traces of genetic material from bacteria, viruses