Questions for “Some microbial hitchhikers may weaken body’s attack on COVID-19”

an illustration of bacteria on villi

This artist’s rendering depicts hitchhiking bacteria (blue, purple, green and yellow rods) covering the surface of the villi — pink finger-like projections — of the gut’s inner wall. Some bacteria are beneficial. Others may make us sick. Diet, disease and more can determine which bacteria dominate and affect health.

ChrisChrisW/iStock/Getty Images Plus

To accompany “Some microbial hitchhikers may weaken body’s attack on COVID-19


Before Reading:

1.  When you hear that there are trillions of microbes living in you, how does it make you feel? And why?

2.  What types of microbes do you think they are?

During Reading:

1.  What is a microbiome and what are some of the good things that it can do for you?

2.  What was the main finding of a study posted January 6 on medRxiv, according to article?

3.  How many subjects were in the new study?

4.  What does it mean that the new study has not been peer reviewed?

5.  What are at least three things that can alter your microbiome?

6.  Roughly how many COVID-19 patients end up in the hospital? Which conditions or ethnic backgrounds are overly represented in those hospitalized COVID-19 patients?

7.  What is ARDS short for? What causes it? Explain a cytokine storm.

8.  What two ways did Ana Maldonado-Contreras and her team test what was in the microbiome of their tested subjects? What two bacteria were found in unusually high numbers in the patients tested? What is known about these two species, based on the story?

9.  Why does Ana Maldonado-Contreras want to focus on what people eat? How might this information help in dietary recommendations for people?

After Reading:

1.  Based on what you read, why might the type of data Ana Maldonado-Contreras and other microbiologists are collecting about the microbiome be helpful to doctors and their patients?

2.  You know what you like to eat — and don’t like to eat. If you learned from a sampling of your microbiome that it had an unbalanced share of good and bad microbes, would you be willing to change your diet, perhaps including at least one food you don’t now particularly like? Why or why not?