When I was growing up, first aid was simple. If you cut yourself, and the bleeding wasn't too bad, your mama, your daddy or anyone else within shouting distance would say, “Rub some dirt on it.”
Dirt worked fine.
More serious injuries got a similar treatment. I can imagine having an “accident” and hearing my mother calling our family doctor for advice.
Mother: “I need you to run on over here for a house call as quick as you can.”
Dr. Chapman: “Why?”
Mother: “Alex was playing Superman again, and he jumped off the roof, and it looks like he broke his leg.”
Dr. Chapman: “How can you tell?”
Mother: “The bone’s sticking out.”
Dr. Chapman: “OK. I’ll swing by on my way home from the office. Until I get there, keep him still and tell him if he cries he’s a sissy.”
Mother: “Is that all?”
Dr. Chapman: “I shouldn’t have to tell you, but rub some dirt on it.”
Once I got a cold sore. Mother said, “I warned you about kissing that six grade hussy, Pam Patke.”
In our family, dogs were encouraged to lick small sores of unknown origin. Somebody was always around to say, “If a dog licks something it gets better.”
Considering some of the things I’d seen our dogs lick, I wasn’t so sure. But I didn’t complain, and canine tongue therapy never did me any harm.
More serious family infections were cleared up with well-known and reliable antibiotics, including penicillin.
Today, penicillin seems to have lost its punch. Mostly because the latest infections plaguing mankind are bigger and badder than ever.
One of the worst is Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better know as MRSA. MRSA infections are especially hard to treat because they are, as the name implies, resistant to most antibiotics.
How bad is it? In April 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), called antibiotic resistance "one of the biggest public health challenges of our time."
Scary stuff. The good news is, another article in Medical News Today said, “Science may have found naturally-occurring organisms that might help defeat this foe.”
Those healing organisms include fish slime.
If you’ve ever caught a fish you know it can be tricky to handle. Mostly because fish come out of the water covered with slippery, slimy goo. Scientists call the goo mucus. Fine. Scientists also say that fish goo, er, mucus, is, and I quote, “among the best bacterial agents in the world.”
Fish goo saves the world. How awesome is that.
But I digress.
Researchers from Oregon State University in Corvallis and California State University in Fullerton spent lots of time studying fish goo and found out that the goo trapped and destroyed pathogens, including bacteria, fungi and viruses.
Scientists said the slime of the Pacific pink perch “worked particularly well against MRSA.”
There aren’t many Pacific pink perch in my neighborhood, but I know where to find plenty of catfish, crappie and largemouth bass. Next time I get an infection, I’m headed for the fishing hole. I might even keep a goldfish in the house for small wounds.
My next mission is figuring how to make fishing a legitimate medical expense on my tax returns.
Alex McRae is the author of “There Ain’t No Gentle Cycle on the Washing Machine of Love.” He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org .