Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Human Bird Flu Transmission

Reuters reports a probable case of human-to-human bird flu transmission in Thailand. Both victims have already died.
Experts have long feared the H5N1 bird flu virus, which swept through much of Asia early this year, could mutate into a form that could be passed from person to person and set off a pandemic like the one in 1918, which killed 20 million people.

Experts believe this is a fluke rather than a new, virulent flu strain. Note that at least 20 million people died of the Spanish flu; the real numbers may be twice that.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever

The Pakistan Daily Times reports a Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever death in Rawalpindi. A physician was also infected.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Hepatitis E in Iraq

The International Herald Tribune blames infrastructure problems for an outbreak of hepatitis E in two Iraqi cities.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Lassa Fever in London

ProMED reports that a West African who recently arrived in Britain is being treated for Lassa fever, a contagious haemorrhagic fever transmitted by rodents.
Public health officials are now trying to track down people who came into close contact with the patient, while refusing to release details of the flight which brought him to the United Kingdom.

Sunday, September 19, 2004


Ergot (Claviceps purpura, Claviceps paspalum) is a fungus found on rye and some other grasses. It can cause convulsions, hallucinations, and gangrene. Outbreaks are rare; ergotism may explain the Salem witch trials.

There's been a rare outbreak of gangrenous ergotism in New Zealand cattle. Thanks again to ProMED for the link.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Jorethang Fever

The Statesman reports on the latest mystery disease in India:
A mysterious fever that’s stalking Jorethang town, Sikkim, near the West Bengal border has affected over a thousand people. According to reports here, the first outbreak of this disease, which the medical fraternity has termed as the Jorethang Fever, was reported on 15 August, this year. Since then more than 1,000 people have been struck by this mysterious virus, whose origin and identity has baffled the local health authorities here. According to health officials, the disease can be identified by symptoms of high fever, body-ache accompanied by repeated vomiting.

Thanks to ProMED for the link.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

SARS Engineering

I missed the speculation back in the spring of 2003 that SARS was genetically engineered. Lev Navrozov thought the Chinese did it, while Dr. Mae-Wan Ho of the Institute of Science in Society thought it could have come from any of a number of genetic engineering labs. The folks at ISIS don't seem to have convinced the scientific community that SARS was anything more that a natural result of living with the livestock, but I'm sure Lev Navrozov would say that we're just hiding our heads in the sand.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Eastern Equine Encephalitis

The Boston Globe reports that Eastern equine encephalitis has spread to 14 communities in Southeastern Massachusetts. (EEE is mosquito-borne, and that's where all the swamps are.) Two people died of EEE in Massachusetts last month. As with West Nile virus, the recommended approach is DEET, long sleeves, and pants.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Autism Again

MedicineNet reports that yet another study has failed to link autism to vaccines. I'd like to see some studies on the assortative mating theory.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

West Nile Virus Endemic

With the report of the first human case in Oregon, West Nile virus is now endemic throughout the contiguous United States.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Breaking Flus

The WHO reports a bird flu death in Thailand today:
9 September 2004
Thailand's Ministry of Health reported today one recent human death caused by avian influenza A (H5N1).
Apparently the guy was giving a sick chicken mouth-to-mouth [ProMED]. Let me be the first to say that is contraindicated.

This follows a report two days ago of a bird flu death in Vietnam:
7 September 2004
WHO has received informal reports of a laboratory-confirmed fatal case of influenza A H5 infection in Viet Nam. The patient is thought to be a child who was hospitalized in Hanoi and who died over the weekend. Further details are awaited from official sources.

If I'm counting correctly, that's a total of 29 bird flu deaths in Vietnam and Thailand this year. And that's just human deaths--kitty isn't safe, either. Ancedotal evidence of bird flu killing cats has been confirmed recently.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Sad Child Disease

Here's an article by two doctors about autism and vaccines. The alleged culprit is thimerosal (sodium ethylmercurithiosalicylate - note the mecur[y]), a preservative used in some vaccines. The CDC claims that no one is using thimerosal anymore, and it doesn't cause autism, and the dates for the surge in autism and the introduction of thimerosal don't match, anyway.

The doctors claim that autism and similar developmental difficulties were unheard-of before thimerosal. The theory is mercury poisoning: the affected children are unable to excrete the mercury that comes to them from vaccines and maternal dental amalgams. The CDC is eliminating thimerosal (as a precaution, not an admission of its guilt), but the article claims that "vaccines containing 25 mcg of mercury per dose and carrying an expiration date of 2005 continue to be produced and administered."

The occasion of this article is pending legislation in California to ban thimerosal in vaccines (beyond trace levels) for both children and mothers by July 2006. Whether or not it passes, it seems that thimerosal and mercury dental amalgams are on their way out. If the autism rate then drops suddenly, I'll become a believer.