If you have recurrent throat infections with staph or strep bacteria, check your toothbrush, your nose and your mate. One study showed that beta strep, which causes rheumatic fever, was grown from toothbrushes of 30 percent of children who were infected with that germ. Beta strep can persist in unwashed toothbrushes for 15 days and in washed toothbrushes for 3 days. Another bacteria called staph aureus can persist in the noses of people even after they have taken the appropriate antibiotic. Having staph in your nose also prevents simple cuts from healing.

Staph grows so luxuriously in the wet nasal membranes that it is difficult to cure by taking oral antibiotics. You can also be re-infected by a mate who has no symptoms at all. If you suffer recurrent staph or strep infections, get a new toothbrush and ask your doctor to culture your nose. If you have a staph aureus infection, apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment such as Bacitracin in your nostrils nightly for several weeks.

January 1, 2006