Friday, August 25, 2006

Spam Sushi Poisoning

Via ProMED-mail: the Honolulu Star Bulletin reports on a rash of food poisoning on Maui caused by spam musubis:

Since July, nine people have become ill probably from food poisoning associated with Spam musubis sold at four stores in Central Maui, officials said yesterday.
Most of the ill have been children, ranging from ages 3 to 9, and two of them received emergency medical care, officials said.

spam musubi

What's Cooking in America has more than you ever wanted to know about spam musubi, including a recipe and pictures of the mold:

A favorite Hawaiian way to eat Spam is in the form of a musubi (pronounced moo-soo-bee, with no accent). It is a fried slice of spam on rice pressed together to form a small block, then wrapped with a strip of seaweed. A special kitchen gadget, known as the Spam Musubi Maker, is responsible for the proliferation of this treat. It is a special plexiglas mold with the outline of a single Spam slice. The Spam musubi is eaten as a sandwich, and it is perhaps the Island's favorite "to go" or snack food. Spam musubi is literally everywhere in Hawaii, including local convenience stores, grocery stores, school cafeterias, and even at the zoo. Eating a Spam musubi seems to serve as a rite of passage for newcomers anxious to attain "local" status.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Typhoid Rocky

The News & Star reports on the danger posed to native British red squirrels by American grey squirrels who carry parapoxvirus:

A deadly squirrel disease which only affects reds could see the species disappear from some of its last remaining English strongholds within a decade, new research revealed today.
Previously scientists believed that grey squirrels were wiping out native reds simply by taking over their habitats, but an international study has blamed a virus which they transmit to the red population, killing them within a fortnight.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Gene for Schizophrenia

Via Gene Expression: EurekAlert! on a gene that causes schizophrenia:

Earlier research [at Mount Sinai and elsewhere] suggests that schizophrenia is associated with changes in myelin, the fatty substance or white matter in the brain that coats nerve fibers and is critical for the brain to function properly. Myelin is formed by a group of central nervous cells called oligodendrocytes, which are regulated by the gene oligodendrocyte lineage transcription factor 2 (OLIG2). Patients with schizophrenia are known to have insufficient levels of oligodendrocytes, however the source of this [deficiency] has not been identified, explains study co-author Joseph D. Buxbaum, PhD, the G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Research Professor of Geriatrics and Adult Development, Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, and Co-Principal Investigator of the Siliva O. Conte Center for the Neuroscience of Mental Disorders.
Dr. Buxbaum and a team of Mount Sinai researchers collaborated with researchers from the Cardiff University School of Medicine in the United Kingdom to analyze DNA in blood samples taken from 673 unrelated patients with schizophrenia and compared their genetic information to 716 patients who did not have the disease. The controls were matched for age, sex, and ethnicity; none were taking medications at the time of the study.
The study showed that genetic variation in OLIG2 was strongly associated with schizophrenia. In addition, OLIG2 also showed a genetic association with schizophrenia when examined together with two other genes previously associated with schizophrenia--CNP and ERBB4--which are also active in the development of myelin. The expression of these three genes was also coordinated. Taken together the data support an etiological role for oligodendrocyte abnormalities in the development of schizophrenia.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Don't Sue the Messenger

ProMED-mail reprints The Jakarta Post on yet another howler from Indonesia:

The parents of 3 young children from North Sumatra's Karo regency who were earlier reported as exhibiting classic bird flu symptoms plan to sue the provincial administration and the central government for saying their children most likely had bird flu.

I believe this is the same area where angry poultry workers drank chicken blood to protest earlier diagnoses. Suing is, at least, more sanitary.