Tuesday, July 29, 2014

de plague de plague

no, not ebola that is trying to spread around the world (uh, ever hear of Quarantine?)

but the medieval one.

For later reading (via Medievalnet)

the treatment of the plague by Arab physicians.of moorish Spain.

full report here.

for later reading.

Most reports on the black plague are about Europe or England: Somewhere I heard a lecture however about how the drop in population meant that the irrigation system of Egypt collapsed causing more deaths.
And of course, the latest epidemic of black plague was in 19th century China.

then there is this report on medieval dutch nuns.


again for later reading...seems that the plague was weaker in that part of the world and it notes that in the high middle ages there were more women than men, which explains why all those girls were put into convents for lack of husbands and why there were so many prostitutes.

Friday, July 18, 2014

de plague! de plague!

conspiracy page Newsmax reports that there are three more cases of pneumonic plague in Colorado. wapost article here

Originally there were two cases: A man and his dog, and the dog probably caught it from the fleas.

I should really not call the paranoid right wing Newsmax a "conspiracy site" since their article doesn't attribute the plague to escaped biowarfare stuff. Indeed, recent reports of (HORRORS) ANTHRAX being found in unmarked refrigerators shows how these thing tend to get exaggerated.

Hello: Anthrax is present in half the barnyards of the US middle west. It's spores live in dirt. But unless you eat it (which is why elephants died in Zimbabwe and had conpsiracy theorists blaming the west) or get it into an open cut in your hand, it just isn't that infectious. You have to process the spore to make it small enough to enter the lungs. Which is why a lot of us think the blaming of the anthrax letters on a rogue scientist was a cover up: he did have access to anthrax, but NOT to the machines that would allow him to weaponize the stuff. Nor did he know how to use the machines without killing himself.

as for plague, this is alas found in local prarie dogs in the moutain states. When I worked for the IHS, we had to keep this and hanta virus in the differential diagnosis of our patient, since an Indian who had hunted would come into the ER once or twice a year.

Tony Hillerman even has a mystery thriller on it, although in his book, the plaugue was superplague.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

When quacks attack, take two

Dr OZ is a quack, but no one has gone against him, because the Medical societies are too busy sending us emails about how to figure out the new paperwork requirements of Obamacare, or emails hailing the wonderfulness of the new program.

 But now, a medical student dares to take him on.JB: Was there a particular patient who inspired this crusade against TV quackery?

BM: The patient who inspired the policy I wrote was an older woman in her 60s who had a lot of the classic, chronic health problems we deal with in America. She was overweight, she had diabetes, heart disease. And so the physician I was working with was recommending these oral diabetes medications that are pretty standard fair. She had watched the Dr. Oz Show featuring green coffee-bean supplements—and how it was great to lose weight—and she was convinced this was going to be a huge impact on her weight.
We tried to politely express concerns that this probably wasn't going to be effective because there's no evidence for it. She refused the diabetes medications. The hope she had placed in the green coffee-bean extract was part of that.
JB: What do you think is the impact of Dr. Oz's sometimes dubious health advice? 
BM: I think these things impede the doctor-patient relationship. These doctors are actually doing a great job. But the trust people are placing with Dr. Oz—when their family physicians even nicely try to contradict him—disrupts their relationship.
JB: As a physician, what are you thinking when you hear Dr. Oz say he believes in magic?
BM: The movement in medicine has been toward evidence-based medicine because physicians had done things by their gut and belief for hundreds of years. Most physicians would agree it's only through the scientific process and evidence that we were able to make huge differences in medical care. It's insulting to talk about important medical issues and drugs as if it they were a matter of belief. It degrades all that work that has been done.

Me, I'm still wondering why no one is taking on the new age types infiltrating the profession.

Yes, I told patients to spend time in meditating: but for a Catholic that might mean saying the rosary, or christian it might mean thinking about what the bible says when they read it. For a grandmom, knitting works too. When they push "mindfulness", they not only risk panic attacks and psychotic breaks in a small number of people, but they are introducing Buddhist prayer techniques into a non Buddhist population.

When Quacks get a microphone

years after the vaccine hysterics hit the UKGuardian and ABC's the view, some mullahs picked up their advice third hand, and the result is a polio epidemic in west Africa and Pakistan....

and just to make sure no parent, seeing paralyzed neighbors, tries to let their children be vaccinated, the Taliban types are killing health care workers (mainly Muslim health care workers, and some of them women).

The UKGuardian and other liberal rags are blaming the doc who helped identify Osama (it's the CIA's fault) but that's a bunch of bull: The jihad against health care workers in the area started at least two years earlier, when the Taliban killed a Pakistani doc in charge of the local health care workers.

and now it is spreading to Syria and you need to renew your polio shots if you visit Israel.

Why shots? Well, in 7 out of a million cases of oral vaccine (I will check the numbers later, but it's about that low), the oral polio virus, which is a weakened form, will mutate back to the real thing.

So if you give oral vaccine to a kid, and his siblings have no immunity, his mom is pregnant, or his grand mom hasn't had her shots, those in contact with the kid could catch the real thing. Indeed, in some areas with spotty vaccinations, (e.g. India) half the polio cases are from this (and in the US, the reason they stopped giving the sugar cube and give your kid the shot nowadays is that nearly all cases were from this problem).

When 90 percent of the population is covered with either vaccine, well, that is not a real problem. But when the vaccine program is interrupted, there are lots of kids who could catch the disease, either from local polio or the rogue vaccine polio virus.

The irony is that polio, like Smallpox, is a human disease, and a couple of years ago the public health docs were hoping that we could wipe it out just like smallpox.

No way.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Is the ebola outbreak caused by deforestation?

are we making ebola worse by cutting down the forests?

I have no idea, except to note that there was a lot of deforestation when they cut the forest to start plantations.

and it's unclear if the deforestation is to replant other crops, illegal logging for export, or if it's poor people who cut down/burn down forests to plant (and then move on after five years when the soil is degraded by their crops).

 Villages here are surrounded by forest and agriculture, and that means bats—thought to carry Ebola—are everywhere. "I lived in a house in a village in Kissidougou district for two years which was full of bats in its roof," she says.
Human activity is driving bats to find new habitats amongst human populations. More than half of Liberia's forests—home to 40 endangered species, including the western chimpanzee—have been sold off to industrial loggers during President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's post-war government, according to figures released by Global Witness. Logging, slash-and-burn agriculture, and chopping down trees for an increased demand for fire wood are all driving deforestation in Sierra Leone, where total forest cover has now dropped to just 4 percent, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) which says if deforestation continues at current levels, Sierra Leone's forests could disappear altogether by 2018.

but then they mix up the human version of ebola with the Ebola Reston, which does not affect humans (or if humans get infected, they don't get very sick).

Ebola in the United States?In 1989, Ebola was detected in monkeys imported from the Philippines at quarantine facilities in Virginia and Pennsylvania, with no human patients. The following year, the same thing happened again in Virginia and Texas. Four humans developed antibodies, but did not get sick. And then again in 1996 in Texas, monkeys from the Philippines were found to have Ebola, but yet again there were no human infections.
NYTimes article on that version which infected some pigs and humans near us. LINK

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Time to update your polio shot

 The CDC warns: If you plan to travel to Asia/Africa, you now need to renew your polio shot...

thanks to the anti vaccine hysteria (ye, it's the mullahs fault, but a lot of them got the idea from reading the anti vaccine hysteria in the UK papers).

Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and CDC recommendations are evidence-based and provide public health recommendations to the general public on the basis of the best available epidemiological and scientific data to prevent poliovirus infection. This includes recommendations for travelers visiting countries with WPV circulation in the last 12 months or countries and provinces where they will be in situations with a high risk for exposure to persons with imported poliovirus infection.
Three countries are still endemic for polio (Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan). Countries where WPV has circulated during the previous 12 months include those endemic countries and those with polio outbreaks or environmental evidence of active WPV circulation during this time (Cameroon, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Iraq, Israel, Somalia, and Syria). Travelers working in health-care settings, refugee camps, or other humanitarian aid settings in these and neighboring countries might be at particular risk for exposure to WPV.

but there's more:

U.S. clinicians should be aware of possible new vaccination requirements for patients planning travel for >4 weeks to the 10 countries identified by WHO as polio-infected (Figure) (13). Four countries (Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Pakistan, and Syria) are now designated as "exporting wild poliovirus." Those countries should "ensure" recent (4–52 weeks before travel) polio boosters among departing residents and long-term travelers (of >4 weeks). An additional six countries (Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Israel, Nigeria, and Somalia) are designated as "infected with wild poliovirus." Those countries should "encourage" recent polio vaccination boosters among departing residents and long-term travelers. This list might change when the public health emergency of international concern is reassessed at the end of July, and, for some countries, these measures could extend beyond the 3 months validity of these temporary recommendations. 

so one of the side effects of the Syrian civil war is that you could catch polio if you go to Israel...

Thursday, July 3, 2014

regrowing corneas

uk Mail article

They have identified a way to enhance regrowth of human corneal tissue to restore vision, using a molecule known as ABCB5, which acts as a marker for hard-to-find limbal stem cells. The research, published in the journal Nature, is also one of the first known examples of constructing a tissue from an adult-derived human stem cell. Limbal stem cells are found in the eye’s basal limbal epithelium, or limbus, and help maintain and regenerate corneal tissue. 

related item: Printing new organs. 


Using a high-tech 'bio-printer', the researchers fabricated a multitude of interconnected tiny fibres to serve as the mold for the artificial blood vessels.
They then covered the 3D printed structure with a cell-rich protein-based material, which was solidified by applying light to it.
Lastly they removed the bio-printed fibres to leave behind a network of tiny channels coated with human endothelial cells, which self organised to form stable blood capillaries in less than a week.
The study reveals that the bioprinted vascular networks promoted significantly better cell survival, differentiation and proliferation compared to cells that received no nutrient supply.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2678614/The-end-transplant-waiting-lists-Researchers-reveal-giant-leap-printing-replacement-organs-say-soon-created-demand.html#ixzz36SUrSzdz
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UKTelegraph article

Ebola 'out of control' in West Africa as health workers rush to trace 1,500 possible victims
Fear, mistrust of Western medicine and difficulties reaching remote areas mean hundreds of potentially infected people have not yet been found

yes: Like HIV, which is spread when needles etc are reused without proper sterilization (and disposable needles are expensive), Ebola in a hospital actually results in spreading it to medical personnel, family, and visitors.

Ebola is transmitted by coming into contact with bodily fluids of an infected person. It has no cure and as many as 90 per cent of its victims die, often from uncontrollable internal and external bleeding. 
 When we had a cholera epidemic, we set up clinics at the local schools to care for them, but that needs running water to wash with.

In traditional Africa, when smallpox affected people, often they were isolated in a hut and someone left food and water at the doorway....if they didn't get it, after so many days, the hut was burned down.

On the other hand, when everyone with the disease dies in the hospital, the locals recognize that it's no use to take sick people there. And when the medical personnel from outside are often of different races and cultures, it takes awhile to get trusted. Often small things make a person look crazy or impolite or excessively bossy, and of course there is resentment against colonial days.

For example, when Sister Patricia would come into a ward and see something she'd order a nurse to clean it up etc....and the nurse would turn to her with lowered eyes and say: Good morning sister how are you.

Because a visitor has to go through the greetings before they get to the reason for their visit.

Nor is this only in Africa: some smart Americans in the Iran hostage crisis many years ago used to do this to put off the train of thought of their interrogators, i.e. changing from western questioning to traditional discussions.

Another problem: cleaning the body for burial also spreads the disease.That means carrying the body home in a car (costs money).

A third problem: The people don't want to die among strangers, far from their homes.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

We love them, we really do. But sometimes our cats drive us crazy. These monsters do exactly what they want and sometimes see us as their slave instead of their loving owner. And still it is super cosy to have one in your house. But every cat comes with his own habits. Some only drink out of your glass and some have a special spot on the couch. This is a whole list of cat habits that cat owners will understand:

Trauma kills kids

again SDaily

In 2010 alone, the top three causes of death for those aged between one and 30 were unintentional injury, suicide, and homicide. Almost four fifths of deaths among people in this age group were due to injuries, with only one fifth due to chronic diseases and only 1% due to infectious diseases. In 2010, among people of all ages, 121,000 died due to unintentional injuries, including automobile crashes, poisoning, and suffocation. Rates of suicide and homicide are unequally distributed across groups, the report found. Suicides were twice as common as homicides (38,364 deaths in 2010 alone, versus 16,259). The highest rates of suicide are found in Native American and Alaskan Natives (16.9 per 100,000) and non-Hispanic whites (14.9). Homicide rates for African Americans (18.6) were double those of the nearest group (Native Americans and Alaskan Natives) and several times higher than other groups. Large disparities between men and women were also observed in the rates of suicide (19.8 vs 5.0) and homicide (8.3 vs 2.2).

well, maybe someone should make movies and video games less violent.

The real problem is that these films JUSTIFY the violence as the only solution for a problem (you are bullied/dissed/stolen from/injured: so get them back).

So where are the films with forgiveness?

New compound that could work for malaria

Science daily

Source: Walter and Eliza Hall Institute Summary: Researchers are homing in on a new target for malaria treatment, after developing a compound that blocks the action of a key 'gatekeeper' enzyme essential for malaria parasite survival. The compound, called WEHI-916, is the first step toward a new class of antimalarial drugs that could cure and prevent malaria infections caused by all species of the parasite, including those resistant to existing drugs