Tag Archives | Disease

Origins of HIV Revealed

ElecMicro of HIV Retrovirus serum isolate Samp-HM47.jpg

ElecMicro of HIV Retrovirus serum isolate Samp-HM47. Picture attributed to uLtRa_GoLiAtH (CC)

It’s never been completely clear how the HIV virus came about, giving rise to various conspiracy theories about it being man-made. The Independent reports on a new study revealing a “perfect storm” of factors giving rise to the virus’s emergence:

A “perfect storm” of factors that came together in colonial Africa early last century led to the spread of Aids in the human population and eventually a full-blown pandemic infecting more than 75 million people worldwide, a study has found.

A genetic analysis of thousands of individual viruses has confirmed beyond reasonable doubt that HIV first emerged in Kinshasa, the capital of the Belgian Congo, in about 1920 from where it spread via the colonial railway network to other parts of central Africa.

Scientists believe the findings have finally nailed the origin of the Aids pandemic to a single source, a colonial-era city then called Leopoldville which had become the biggest urban centre in Central Africa and a bustling focus for trade, including a market in wild “bush meat” captured from the nearby forests.

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What’s a Vampire, Really?

BookOne_doorVampires. I know, I know–I always seem to be talking about them here. Not the sparkly ones, not the infamous Count, not the myriad of angst-ridden near-vamps in recent science-fiction and paranormal TV. No, I’m fascinated by the vampires of history.

In a previous post here, I wrote about the vampire graves discovered in Český Krumlov (and dated to 1732). The “vampire debate” of the 1730s concerned an epidemic of this “vampirism,” borrowing from science and from folklore. For instance, according to some of the stories, vampire men would come back not only to attack the living, but to woo them. Ok, probably it doesn’t count as wooing, but a case documented around the same time claims that a woman’s deceased husband returned to impregnate her. Sound crazy? It did to the scientific community, who sent in physicians to try and sort it all out. The woman’s case was dismissed as a diseased imagination–but that doesn’t mean they weren’t taking vampires seriously.… Read the rest

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You’re More Likely To Eat High-Calorie Foods If You Believe Obesity Is A Disease

PIC: PD

PIC: PD

In 2013, the American Medical Association recognized obesity as a disease. The decision had unintended consequences, among them that believing that it is a disease makes you more likely to eat high calorie food. The belief does help people to have a more positive body image, though.

Via PsyPost:

…new psychology research suggests the “obesity is a disease” message actually undermines important weight-loss efforts.

“The term disease suggests that bodies, physiology, and genes are malfunctioning. By invoking physiological explanations for obesity, the disease label encourages the perception that weight is unchangeable,” Crystal L. Hoyt of the University of Richmond and her colleagues wrote in their study, which was published in the April issue of Psychological Science.

In three separate studies with more than 700 participants, the researchers found that obese participants who read a New York Times article about the AMA declaring obesity to be a disease were subsequently less likely to be concerned about their weight and more likely to choose to eat higher-calorie foods.

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Warning: Smoking Can Cause … Erectile Dysfunction

CigaretteHey smokers, in case the usual life shortening diseases associated with smoking don’t scare you, how about erectile dysfunction during your shortened life? Or if you’re female how about diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis? The Surgeon General has added those maladies and others to the list of bad things that happen to smokers reports AP via Chron:

It’s no secret that smoking causes lung cancer. But what about diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, erectile dysfunction? Fifty years into the war on smoking, scientists still are adding diseases to the long list of cigarettes’ harms — even as the government struggles to get more people to kick the habit.

A new report from the U.S. Surgeon General’s office says the nation is at a crossroads, celebrating decades of progress against the chief preventable killer but not yet poised to finish the job.

“The real emphasis needs to be put on the fact that we still have a major and tragic catastrophe going on,” said acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak…

…Remarkably, the report adds more entries to the official list of smoking-caused diseases, including Type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, erectile dysfunction, the macular degeneration that can blind older adults, two additional cancers — liver and colorectal — and cleft palate birth defects…

[continues at AP via Chron]

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The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD)

AdhdbrainFinally some tough questions are being asked about one of Big Pharma’s most successful manufactured “diseases,” ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). The New York Times reports that the number of diagnoses soared amid a 20-year drug marketing campaign – and now it’s gearing up to persuade adults that they have ADHD just like their kids do:

After more than 50 years leading the fight to legitimize attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Keith Conners could be celebrating.

Severely hyperactive and impulsive children, once shunned as bad seeds, are now recognized as having a real neurological problem. Doctors and parents have largely accepted drugs like Adderall and Concerta to temper the traits of classic A.D.H.D., helping youngsters succeed in school and beyond.

But Dr. Conners did not feel triumphant this fall as he addressed a group of fellow A.D.H.D. specialists in Washington. He noted that recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the diagnosis had been made in 15 percent of high school-age children, and that the number of children on medication for the disorder had soared to 3.5 million from 600,000 in 1990.

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CDC Warns ‘We Will Soon Be in a Post-Antibiotic Era’

antibiotic-resistantFor all our technology, will we end up going back to the Dark Ages? Wired Science writes:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has just published a first-of-its-kind assessment of the threat from antibiotic-resistant organisms, outlining urgent steps that need to be taken.

The agency’s conservative assessment of the problem:

Each year, in the U.S., 2,049,442 illnesses caused by bacteria and fungi that are resistant to at least some classes of antibiotics; Each year, out of those illnesses, 23,000 deaths.

“If we are not careful, we will soon be in a post-antibiotic era,” Dr. Tom Frieden, the CDC’s director, said in a media briefing. “And for some patients and for some microbes, we are already there.”

Out of that matrix, their top three “urgent” threats:

Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae or CRE, a set of ICU germs that are resistant to almost all antibiotics: 600 deaths per year; Antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea, which currently responds to only one drug: 246,000 infections per year; Clostridium difficile, 14,000 deaths.

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Chinese Man Turns Green After Eating Too Many River Snails

greenI imagine that there are people who will now do this intentionally. AsiaOne reports:

A 24-year-old man was hospitalised in Guizhou province, China, after he ate too many river snails too frequently and turned green as a result.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control reportedly confirmed that he was infected by parasitic flatworms that live in animal livers. The parasite apparently entered his body because he was eating river snails on a daily basis.

He began complaining of a sharp abdominal pain about two months ago, but did not seek medical attention until he started exhibiting some very strange symptoms. His skin and the whites of his eyes started to turn green.

Doctors finally removed four common liver fluke (fasciola hepatica) from his common bile duct. Doctors said that the four parasites were each about 10mm long.

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Anti-Vax Megachurch Unleashes Measles Outbreak In Texas

Anti-Vax Megachurch

The church is part of the empire of megapastor Kenneth Copeland, who advocates faith healing and a connection between vaccines and autism. The Dallas Morning News reports that the church is relenting and members are receiving vaccinations:

Tarrant County health officials have linked 11 measles cases to a megachurch near Eagle Mountain Lake.

Eagle Mountain International Church officials confirmed Tuesday that a person who was exposed to the infectious disease while on a mission trip to Indonesia had visited their church, about 50 miles northwest of Dallas. “[The man] shook hands,” Robert Hayes, the church’s risk manager, said. “He gave a number of people a big hug.”

Those infected range in age from 4 months to 44 years. It took time to narrow the source because measles symptoms don’t surface right away, officials said.

Though the disease is rare in the U.S., measles is so contagious that it infects 90 percent of those who are not immune and come into contact with an infected person.

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Chilean Woman Cries Tears Of Blood

Via I Love Chile, doctors are baffled by the incredibly rare, quasi-religious condition of haemolacria, or crying tears of blood:
The rare disease haemolacria is known as one of the “most alarming and unusual complaints in opthalmology.” Twenty-year old Yaritza Oliva from Purranque, who cries tears of blood, says, “Nobody knows what I need, they don’t know what I have or what to do.” At first, Chilean doctors believed Yaritza to have an infection or the like, but since then ophthalmologist Dr Alexander Lutz has clarified doubts about this strange condition. The illness has not been declared as deadly, but the different victims have to suffer the pain of their condition and cases of discrimination as well. Until today, only three other cases of haemolacria have been reported: Calvino Inman, a 16-year-old boy from the United States, Twinkle Dwivedi, living in India and 12 when the illness broke out, and Rashida Khatoon from India.
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Animals Self-Medicate Far More Than Previously Realized

animals self medicateScience Daily on animal pharmacology as part of the ecosystem:

It’s been known for decades that animals such as chimpanzees seek out medicinal herbs to treat their diseases. But it now appears that the practice of animal self-medication is a lot more widespread than previously thought, according to University of Michigan ecologist Mark Hunter and his colleagues.

Animals use medications to treat various ailments through both learned and innate behaviors. The fact that moths, ants and fruit flies are now known to self-medicate has profound implications for ecology and evolution.

Wood ants incorporate an antimicrobial resin from conifer trees into their nests, preventing microbial growth in the colony. Parasite-infected monarch butterflies protect their offspring against high levels of parasite growth by laying their eggs on anti-parasitic milkweed. Lacking many of the immune-system genes of other insects, honeybees incorporate antimicrobial resins into their nests.

“Perhaps the biggest surprise for us was that animals like fruit flies and butterflies can choose food for their offspring that minimizes the impacts of disease in the next generation,” Hunter said.

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