What did Henna do?

Cleaning teeth: aboard the Space Shuttle © NASA, 1998

Personal Hygiene: It is advisable to clean your teeth after each meal to prevent the build up of plaque on your teeth.  This contains bacteria that will release chemicals that damage the tooth enamel.  And if you have consumed sugary food or drink (eg soda), the bacteria can reproduce much faster and do more damage.

 Hannah cleans her teeth, but as a matter of courtesy she calls Yoko on the intercom to tell her she will be a few minutes late.

Each week I give each member of the Space Station Crew a medical check, and every six weeks they have a more thorough examination.  Today, Yoko Nakamora, our geologist, is coming for a weekly check.   Probably, the most important part is talking to the crew member.  This can often be as revealing as tests.   The first signs of illness can often be from what a person tells you.  I am familiar with the crew's medical history, and this can help in any diagnosis, should any problem be reported.  Medical examinations are carried in the emergency escape module, which houses the station's medical facilities. Yoko is waiting when I arrive.

Yoko is just recovering from a viral infection with flu-like symptoms.  She only recently returned to the Station after her vacation and because of the re-supply launch schedule, she did not spend the full quarantine period in isolation at the Space Command Center before launch.  She must have caught the "bug" from her family.  Isolated here, we can become more susceptible to common infections when we return to Earth, as we do not pick up natural immunities to evolving diseases such as influenza.   On longer missions, such as Mission to Mars where crew are likely to be away from Earth for up to four years, the problems could be even worse, upon return.

When Yoko first showed symptoms of the infection I isolated her for a few days in this module, but I don't think it was effective as two other crew members are now showing signs of the virus.  People are often most infectious before the symptoms show!

I take a throat swab and urine sample from Yoko, which I will test later.  These are standard weekly tests which give an indication of overall health.  Today, Yoko appears to be recovering from the virus, well.

I really feel I ought to do something about this influenza-like virus.

After some thought, what did Henna do about the virus?

Request the latest influenza vaccine for the next re-supply mission.
Formulate the vaccine on the Station.

Give all the crew antibiotics.

Nothing, except treatment when the virus occurs.

Control of Infection
Deep Space Missions



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