Germs that cure. Doctors who infect.

Even though germs on doctors' neckties include disease agents, other germs in the mouth prevent mother-child HIV transmission, and still other germs in the gut help prevent allergies.

If the health breakthroughs of the 20th century were about eradicating disease-causing organisms -- with antibiotics, inoculation, and hygeine -- the breakthroughs of the 21st century could be identifying, cultivating, and deploying a large array of health-giving microbes. Is there a bacteria or virus out there that once discovered will save as many lives as penicillin has?

I wonder if getting infected with one of these "good" microbes will have the opposite social effect of getting infected with a "bad" one.

For example, when you get a cold you stay home from work and avoid social events partly because you don't want to spread your cold to others. And if other people know you have a cold they will avoid contact with you.

Now, if you have a saluvirus or one of these "good" microbes in your system, is it considered polite to spread it? Should you make an effort to go out into crowded public places? Would strangers ask to drink after you?
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