Geography is Everywhere by Elise Schlosser

Feb 23rd, 2012 | By admin | Category: Education

Bacteria, Viruses, Mold & Geography

I am going to discuss bacteria, viruses, mold, and of course…geography!  You will soon see the connection!  Some bacteria are good and help our bodies and environment.  Some decompose fruits and vegetables that are used in compost.  Some of the not so good bacteria include; Salmonella, Listeria, and E. Coli.  Bacteria are considered living things and many times antibiotics (anti = against or not, biotic = life) are used to fight the infections caused by these bacteria.

Mold is a type of fungus and like bacteria, some are good and some are not. Some molds are found in the foods we eat, such as Blue Cheese and yogurt.  Do you know why mold grows faster on white bread than wheat bread?  Because mold needs starches that get converted or “change” into sugars to survive and white bread has more starch in it than wheat bread.  Molds look fuzzy when they grow, that’s how you know it is mold.

Viruses on the other hand, need another living organism to live. Antibiotics do not kill them. There is much debate as to whether viruses are really living or dead.  Some examples include the cold, flu, Lymes Disease, and rabies.

What does this have to do with geography?  Well, everything!  There is biogeography which, in part, is the study of the distribution of organisms over various geographical locations.  Physical geography because of the different places bacteria, mold, and viruses can originate such as caves, soils, rainforests, and almost any other physical place on earth.   Economic geography because if food gets contaminated with E. Coli, or chickens infected with bird flu, these plants and animals are destroyed and a lot of money is lost.  That in turn causes prices to increase, not just with food but the cost of medicines to make people better.  Cultural geography because people everywhere get sick at one time or another by these organisms, or, as mentioned by the economics involved.  This also ties into health or medical geography. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Georgia and the National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) in Wisconsin are just two examples of national labs that study these organisms and their presence in plants, animals, or people.  Harmful organisms were one of the things they were looking for with the birds in Beebe. And harmful organisms that could effect humans were not found.

The key factor is transportation. It is one way the world is physically connected; planes, trains, boats, railroad.  With transportation bacteria and viruses can move from one geographic location to another.  It can be within a household, village, community, or across an ocean.  It can be from people, animals, insects, plants, food, air, water, or any other host (carrier).  So, next time someone asks you what bacteria and viruses have to do with geography, you can tell them, well, everything!  Let me know what you think or if you have any ideas of your own, I would love to hear them!  You can email me at, And remember…Geography is Everywhere!