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Clues beginning to emerge on asymtomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection
Back in November of 2020, during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was teaching an in-person microbiology laboratory. One of my students had just been home to see his parents, and they all c…
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Could there maybe be better uses of genetics and probiotics?
Professor Meng Dong and his laboratory have created a probiotic that can metabolize alcohol quickly and maybe prevent some of the adverse effects of alcohol consumption. The scientists cloned a highl…
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ChatGPT is not the end of essays in education
The takeover of AI is upon us! AI can now take all our jobs, is the click-bait premise you hear from the news. While I cannot predict the future, I am dubious that AI will play such a dubious role in…
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Fighting infections with infections
Multi-drug-resistant bacterial infections are becoming more of an issue, with 1.2 million people dying of previously treatable bacterial infections. Scientists are frantically searching for new metho…
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A tale of two colleges
COVID-19 at the University of Wisconsin this fall has been pretty much a non-issue. While we are wearing masks, full in-person teaching is happening on campus. Bars, restaurants, and all other busine…
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15-1 Introduction

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From a microbe's point of view, our bodies are excellent places to live and as a result we are covered with microorganisms. Most of these associations are benign or even beneficial, but a few are damaging to the animal host and they would rapidly spread throughout our tissues if it were not for the immune system. This intricate and complex collection of proteins, cells and tissues has the daunting task of keeping the tens of billions of little travelers attached to our bodies from entering areas where they ought not to be. It is nearly unbelievable that the immune system is up to the task, yet it certainly is and our lives depend on it. This chapter will describe the array of defenses that mammals have to protect themselves from infectious disease.