“The Democratic Republic of Congo is home to one of the largest and most biologically diverse rain forests in the world, featuring an incredible variety of animals including bonobos, forest elephants, and mountain gorillas. The country is also the stomping ground of a staggering array of microbial organisms and the region is well known as a wellspring of novel human pathogens, some with big household names and others little known.”—Congo’s Uncharted Territory - Body Horrors | DiscoverMagazine.com
With continuing spread of this gene among a population of pathogens and without this vital class of antibiotics, there may soon be a point in which we can do little to treat sepsis, urinary tract infections, or catheter-borne infections. We do not have any alternatives, we do not have adequate tools that work as effectively to treat these very serious, often deadly infections.
“I know, I know: there you sit terrified, pondering what kind of world we live in where scientists could possibly ever think of christening an insect “eater of man.” It’s a heartless place we live in that plays pranks on you in the form of flesh-eating insects and I just don’t have an answer that would adequately explain the slings, arrows and screwworms of daily life. But let me tell you more about this little man-eater and get this day thoroughly ruined for ya.”—The Special Brand of Horror that is the New World Screwworm - Body Horrors | DiscoverMagazine.com
“What’s gotten into you? In this hour, Radiolab uncovers a world full of parasites.
Could parasites be the shadowy hands that pull the strings of life? We explore nature’s moochers, with tales of lethargic farmers, zombie cockroaches, and even mind-controlled humans (kinda, maybe). And we examine claims that some parasites may actually be good for you.”
“New “founder” influenza viruses appear periodically, cause a pandemic, raise widespread population immunity, and then, in response to human immune pressures, evolve and persist for decades using multiple genetic evolutionary mechanisms to sustain continual immune escape.”
“Although precise figures are lacking, emerging infectious diseases comprise a substantial fraction of all consequential human infections. They have caused the deadliest pandemics in recorded human history, including the Black Death pandemic (bubonic/pneumonic plague; 25–40 million deaths) in the fourteenth century, the 1918 influenza pandemic (50 million deaths), and the HIV/AIDS pandemic (35 million deaths so far).”—Emerging Infectious Diseases: Threats to Human Health and Global Stability via PLOS Pathogens
“Doesn’t this sound familiar? It’s the de-evolution of man into something not quite human but subhuman. An unrecognizable family member demonically possessed by some unfathomable but instantly recognizable animal instinct. The frothing at the mouth, the lucid madness, the lost humanity: it’s all here and stems from our ancient, tragic history with rabies and canines. To be human is a sacred and inviolable thing; rabies infection breaches that principal. The animal bite and the transmission of disease represent a moment of transgressive contact between animal mouth and human flesh, the possibility of losing one’s humanity and regressing to an animal state. Our horror stories capitalize on this lurid fear.”—The Bestial Virus: The Infectious Origins of Werewolves, Zombies & Vampires - Body Horrors | DiscoverMagazine.com
“Make no mistake, good science writing is medicine. It is a cure for ignorance and fallacy. Good science writing peels away the blindness, generates wonder, and brings the open palm to the forehead: ‘Oh! Now I get it!’”—Mary Roach
Latest Body Horrors post - on the new MERS affecting the Middle East and Europe and on how its transmission in Saudi Arabia may be affected by the wearing of the niqab face veil. It’s a fun one, promise!
The World Health Organization (WHO) voiced increased concern today about the possibility of community transmission of the novel coronavirus, while sketching in a few more details about a hospital-centered case cluster in Saudi Arabia and the clinical spectrum of the infection.
Although sustained transmission in the community has not been seen, the WHO said, “The continued appearance of cases that are not part of larger clusters, and who do not have a history of animal contact, increases concerns about possible community transmission. This possibility is being investigated by authorities in Saudi Arabia.”
The WHO has confirmed 40 cases and 20 deaths from novel coronavirus infections since the pathogen was identified in 2012, most of them in older men.
“We cannot wall ourselves off from the world and hope for the best, nor ignore the public health challenges beyond our borders. The world is interconnected, and that demands an integrated approach to global health.”—Barack Obama
Some seem to think that public health officials pull a microbe “crisis du jour” out of their proverbial test tube when financing for infectious disease research and control programs appears to be drying up. They dismiss warnings about the latest bugs as “crying wolf.” This misimpression could be deadly.