Friday, February 29, 2008

Nosocomial Hepatitis C

Via ProMED-mail: everybody is reporting on the multi-incident iatrogenic transmission of hepatitis C at a clinic in Nevada. (Here, for example, is the report from Fox5 News, Las Vegas.) The Southern Nevada Health District site has a FAQ with graphics of the smoking syringe:

Following a joint investigation with the Nevada State Bureau of Licensure and Certification (BLC) and with consultation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the health district determined that unsafe injection practices related to the administration of anesthesia medication might have exposed patients to the blood of other patients.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Cure Your Own Cancer

Via plime: the AP reports on a Duke University student working to find a cure for his own rare form of cancer:

Chordoma — the cancer Josh learns he has — is a one-in-a million disease. Just 300 people get the terrible news each year, not even one per day. It strikes all ages, at different spots along the spinal column. The tumors can be removed, but the cancer is relentless. Chemotherapy doesn’t work. Life expectancy is around seven years.
The MRI shows Josh’s tumor is in a tough spot, in a bone inside his skull. It extends onto his brain stem and wraps around several arteries. There are two surgeries, then weeks of recovery in the hospital. He and Simone pass the time reading whatever they can about the disease.
There isn’t much. The massive apparatus of medical research — pharmaceutical companies, foundations, universities, government agencies — is utilitarian. High-prevalence diseases are at the front of the line, rare ones like chordoma usually at the back.
But then, a stroke of good fortune. It turns out that the only researcher in the country with a grant to study chordoma happens to be at Duke, working in a VA lab across the street from campus.

Josh later cuts back on his research activities in favor of the Chordoma Foundation which he and his mother founded to better organize research into chordoma. The article also mentions a few other patient-researchers.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Acromegaly in the News

Via pilme: the Daily Mail reports on a chance meeting at a restaurant that led to a diagnosis of acromegaly, a rare condition that affects 3 people in a million.

The life-saving handshake happened on December 6, when lifelong friend Rob Thompson brought Dr Britt to an Italian restaurant Mr Gurrieri runs in Canary Wharf.
"I came out to meet them at the door. My friend, Rob, brought Chris along for the first time," he said.
"We shook hands and I sat them down at the table. He didn't say anything to me at the time but he turned to Rob as soon as he sat down and said 'I'm sure he has acromegaly, I can tell you. I'll stake my career on it.'
"Rob didn't tell me straight away. He came in two days later and was really nervous about telling me.
"I got straight on the internet. I read down the lines and saw the word 'tumour'. That word is frightening, especially when it has to do with the head.
"I went to my GP with everything I could print off from the internet and waved it under his nose.
"He looked it up and said he wasn't sure but would send me off for a blood test and MRI scan. They came back positive for acromegaly."
The condition, in which a tumour grows on the pituitary gland, causes an increase in growth hormones that can cause giantism in children.
In adults, it causes soft tissues to be deposited in the hands and growth of the skull bones.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Pesticide Dumplings

Via plime: the AP reports on the discovery of pesticide in Chinese dumplings imported into Japan:

Officials said Japanese authorities were recalling millions of bags of dumplings and other foods made by Tianyang Food Processing Ltd., the Chinese company that Japanese officials implicated in the earlier incidents.
A day earlier, China's product safety agency announced that tests on the ingredients of Tianyang dumplings — from the same batch sent to Japan — found none of the insecticide cited by Japanese authorities, said the country's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.
Investigators detected the insecticide methamidophos on the six bags of Tianyang dumplings over the weekend, a Hyogo prefecture (state) police official said on condition of anonymity, citing policy.
The official said that one of the bags had two tiny holes in it, and that investigators were checking whether the dumplings inside were contaminated.
The dumplings were the same type blamed for sickening 10 people, some of them seriously, in central and western Japan in December and January.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Progressive Inflammatory Neuropathy

Via ProMED-mail: the AP reports that the CDC has given a name to the pork-inhalation autoimmune disease contracted by workers at a couple of slaughterhouses:

Minnesota officials said they were broadening their investigation to thousands of former employees at the Quality Pork Processors Inc. plant in Austin, going back a decade to when a powerful compressed air system was installed to remove brain tissue from pig heads.
Investigators have been trying to determine whether pig brain tissue, sprayed into the air as droplets during removal by the compressed air system, was inhaled by workers and made them sick.
If further investigation proves their theories true, they will have identified a rare, new condition that could shed light on a whole family of poorly understood disorders in which the body's immune system attacks the nerves or the sheath that surrounds them, the Star Tribune reported.

You'd think after mad cow, they'd be a little more careful about aerosolizing livestock brains, but no. PlagueBlog recommends avoiding all pork, short or long.