In the first few hours of a hospital stay, the microbes living on the walls and other surfaces of the hospital try to overthrow your skin microbiome. Then all hell breaks loose. Within 24 hours—and possibly as little as seven—your microbes rise up to beat back the invaders. Before the germ clouds settle, your microbiome has invaded the room.At least, that seems to be the standard way of things, according to a new study in Science Translational Medicine. For the study, researchers at the University of Chicago, led by microbiologist Jack Gilbert, meticulously tracked the microbial comings and goings of a new hospital over the course of a year. They started from before the hospital opened and kept researching past when it was full of patients. The researchers set out to understand microbial dynamics so they can one day tweak them. Gilbert envisions future probiotics—not pills or lotions, but surface sprays and wall treatments—that can bulk up beneficial bacteria capable of ejecting deadly pathogens and even prime helpful immune defenses in patients.
During a hospital stay, all microbial hell breaks loose between you and the room