Microbes rule the earth, so let’s not take it for granted that they have also greatly influenced U.S. history and the lives of our Presidents. This year, microbes are playing a key role in the Presidential race, or as some might call this election season, the “don’t-vote-for-that-one-who-is-crazier-than-me catastrophe race of 2016”. There was quite a media stir in September when candidate Hillary Clinton fell ill. She was reportedly very sick and hit by a bout of pneumonia. Many different organisms can cause this lung infection, such as viruses or bacteria, including streptococcus pneumoniae (also called pneumococcus). Although millions of Americans are diagnosed with pneumonia each year, it can be fatal. In fact, pneumonia is a top 10 cause of death in the U.S and, if viral, can also be contagious. In Secretary Clinton’s case, her ailment was kept top secret. Reports surfaced that she took antibiotics, indicating it was likely a bacterial infection. She recovered quickly and missed only a few days on the stage of this year’s ultimate reality show.

As for her opponent Donald Trump, his “doctor” stated he would be "the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” Trump is older than Clinton, so they both need to take precautions to avoid pneumonia and many other microbes that can hit seniors especially hard. Both candidates are highly energized and working nonstop to earn American votes. Perhaps one day we’ll find out what bacteria, virus, prion, archaea, protozoa, fungi, parasites or other microbes may be behind their personas and their actions. Microbes are surely lurking in the brains, hearts, guts and hairs of these candidates in the 2016 election season. After all, whoever ends up sitting in the oval office will not be alone. Every individual person is made up of human cells, plus trillions of microbes that inhabit the body!

The current man in the oval office, President Barack Obama, has rarely been sick during his tenure in the oval office. Perhaps it’s his exercise habits, his diet, or his good hand-washing hygiene. Or maybe the Secret Service has finally learned how to protect the Commander-in-Chief from all dangers both large and very, very small.