Our Microbiologists on COVID-19 & the Microbiome

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As microbiologists who have written and continue to speak about the importance to harbour a healthy microbiome, we feel it is also necessary to affirm some of the messages in Let Them Eat Dirt during the ongoing epidemic with COVID-19 .

As we included in the book and film, hygiene is and will always be necessary in human societies. While the vast majority of our encounters with microbes are harmless or beneficial, the current emergengy clearly put us in different territory. THESE ARE NOT REGULAR TIMES. We are experiencing life under a world epidemic, and practices that are out of the ordinary are necessary.

What is recommended during an infectious epidemic like this one is social distancing and hygiene. Hand washing and not touching your face (so hard!) are the main recommendations in relation to hygiene. While we mentioned in the book that under normal scenarios gel sanitizer is not necessary, our current situation deviates from that. We need to disinfect our hands often, and there may be situations and places where there isn’t running water and soap readily available, so carrying one (at least 60% alcohol) is a good idea. With that said, hand washing for at least 20 seconds with clean water and soap remains the gold standard in disease prevention, so opt for this whenever possible.

While we await until our current circumstances normalize (experts predict it will be weeks to months) it is very important to treat this situation seriously. Follow instructions from your health authorities closely and do your part to prevent further spread of this disease.

Sincerely, Dr. Marie-Claire Arrieta & Dr. B. Brett Finlay

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