New Post at a site we watch, pazonehealth.org.


Learn about parasitic disease! Fun Fun Fun!hydatid-being-removed-from-brain-e1506534933194.jpg

http://www.pazonehealth.org/single-post/2017/09/27/Hydatid-Disease-Part-IV

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New Year


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September. Elul.

Children back in school, since before Labor Day, which is some sort of obscene perversion, that we all put up with form some strange reason. The lawn is a riot of different species, while my neighbor spends hundreds if not thousands on the boring monoculture of something as uninteresting as fescue, or bluegrass, or whatever it is they waste drinking water on. Not on my property. Glad there is no property owner’s association.

Hurricanes. Summer starting to die, and the prospect of another long New England winter lies ahead.

President ends DACA, pardons Arpaio, threatens nuclear war, while life proceeds with the torpor of normality. The dog is an excuse to get out of the house for a walk, the cats view the world from the windows, just feet from a bird who must know that eating the pokeweed berries is safe, a screen keeping the cats at bay. NPR on the radio too much, I have to do something about that.

Jewish New Year about to arrive. Even though mostly stripped of the religious trappings, the imprint of the years and the habit of intense self-reflection, with all of its painful realizations, ameliorated by going to spend time with family, my 1,000-mile distant support system.

 

 

Rabies: 9 years and things are not getting better


 rabid dog
For about nine years now, I have been traveling to Baltimore on a semi-annual basis. I go to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and deliver, more or less, the same talk, year after year,  about rabies.
9 years, and more deaths.
It’s part of the vector-borne section of the course. While not a vector-borne disease (unless we wish to think of dogs as a vector between us and bats–a bit of a stretch, if you ask me), rabies is considered one of the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), and because it’s a preventable cause of horrific and needless suffering it needs to be somewhere.
Opening Salvo
I always preface my talk with two informal survey questions:
  1. Does anyone know what the OIE is?
  2. Does anyone know what One Health is?
Answers:
  1. OIE stands for Office International des Epizooties, or World Organisation for Animal Health (yes, they use the British spelling of “organization, which I think is a political statement, but that’s another post). It’s kind of like the WHO for animals, and it is based in Paris.
  2. One Health is a concept advanced by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the CDC, and other organizations. The CDC states “One Health recognizes that the health of people is connected to the health of animals and the environment. The goal of One Health is to encourage the collaborative efforts of multiple disciplines-working locally, nationally, and globally-to achieve the best health for people, animals, and our environment.”
I think that over the years, I’ve had maybe three ‘yes’ answers to these questions, combined. The conclusions are obvious:
  1. The OIE is failing in its mission to educate the other health professions, as well as the general public, on the importance of animal health, both as it relates to animals alone and to human health as well.
  2. The One Health concept is a failed attempt by the veterinary profession to assert its presence into discussions of public health. It represents the profession’s inability to move itself from the general world of agriculture (where it is also clearly important) and place itself among the disciplines of other health sciences.
(As a veterinarian, we are used to being the red headed stepchild of the medical professions, so this doesn’t really surprise or irk me. Sometimes, we even create brilliant concepts, like One Health, so we can pretend that it’s really a thing for those outside of our bubble.)
So, what’s the problem here, specifically regarding rabies?
Let me preface this by saying that , I don’t really trust rabies statistics. The latest updates I’m reading estimate the annual number of rabies deaths at 59,000.  Given that most of these deaths come from rural areas in Africa and Asia with poor access to treatment and prevention, I’m not sure how they come up with that number. (On my to-do list: contact a rabies epidemiologist.) What I do know is that when I first started giving the talk, the number was 25,000 – 50,000. The range itself, varying by 100% of the low number, inspires doubt in and of itself.
That noted, the trend over the past nine years is at best level, and at worst shows an increase of 18%. Rabies does not get a lot of attention. Most diseases of the poor—Chagas’ disease, cysticercosis, leishmaniasis, hydatid disease, and others—get little attention. AIDS/HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria are the exceptions, but two of those are not restricted to poor areas overseas. Rabies kills “only” 59,000 people a year, a number that pales in comparison to the other diseases listed here. But working on one disease does not preclude working on another.  Rabies is low hanging fruit. The numbers of rabies deaths are skewed towards children.  Rabies is not a medical mystery. The bottom line is that no one should die the horrible death that comes with rabies infection.

 

Father’s Day: The Most Important Holiday of the Year


No breakfast in bed, no sleeping in. I had to work on Father’s Day.

father's day

Before you start knitting your brow with sympathy, you should know that I teach sailing. It’s not like I sit in a cubicle, wondering why the hell I’m sitting in a cubicle on a beautiful day in June. I’m out on the water, loving life and trying to teach adults upwind from downwind (which can be astoundingly difficult for some).

My son was working from 3-8. He doesn’t drive, and I was going to be out on the water. I had to ask the former wife to drive him to work. She said that would be OK, but I had to leave him at her house overnight, because it’s too much trouble to drive to my house, all of less than 2 miles from her house. My daughter was already staying at her house that night. She doesn’t always tolerate the level of disorganization that I can, and that’s OK (and another subject).

I ignored the request and had my son sleep at my house anyway. I can’t count the number of trips I make every week over to the other residence, to pick them up, to retrieve a needed piece of homework, to get shoes for my 13 year-old daughter, who inexplicably arrived at my house without suitable–or sometimes any–footwear.  But the disparity in number of trips made is another raspberry seed in a stuck in a molar. Forget about it, it falls out eventually.

I knew I’d be out of the house hours before my dormouse of a teen-aged son even cracked his eyelids a wee bit open.  That didn’t matter. I don’t really need much for Father’s Day. In fact, I only need one thing: a single wish that I have a happy Father’s Day from both of my children.

That’s what I needed. I wanted a little bit more. I wanted to wake up with at least one of my children in the house, whether or not we’d be able to exchange good mornings. I can’t explain, but it meant a lot to me. I live far from my family, in a part of the country where I don’t have deep roots. Waking up  alone in a house on Father’s Day? I didn’t want to give myself a chance to brood about that idea. I’m very good at brooding.

Before I left for work, I wrote a note to my son: don’t forget to call my dad, my step-dad (if he hadn’t been seeing his mom later, I would have reminded him to call the former wife’s dad, as I have always done in the past), and to walk Genius Mutt.

This simple act made me feel contented as I left the house. It was the cherry on top of waking up as father, a child of mine asleep in his room. But it got even better: when I picked up Sam after his work, I learned that he had actually done all three things. Off to Smashburger and Ben & Jerry’s.

When I got home, my daughter was waiting for me. She was concerned that she hadn’t seen me yet, in order that she might wish me a happy day. She also wrote a letter to me–unintentionally sounding like it was torn from a page of Ulysses–enumerating the reasons why I was the best dad in the world.

collage-fathers-day-mcgregor

Sessions makes it through 2.5 hours of testimony with no bathroom breaks. He even drank a little water.


Other than that, it was a pretty unremarkable event. Sessions pouted, refused to answer questions, revealed that he doesn’t take notes, and has a really, really bad memory.

Following his testimony in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee today, many reporters were astounded at how well dressed and groomed the Attorney General was. “Sitting as I was, in front of Mr. Sessions’s table, I was quite impressed. In spite of clear damage to his memory functions, he was able to find not only all of the required items of clothing, but he even had matching socks.”

It is well known, of course, that he has people to drive him around, remind him of appointments, and put large-print prepared remarks in front of him, but his impersonation of a functioning elderly person was universally acknowledged as nothing short of brilliant. “It makes you think he could still find his car in a parking lot,” oozed Senator Risch of Idaho, not a man to give praise lightly.

Granny-Sessions
“No one ever put one over on Granny, and they’re not going to do it to me.”  

This is why I’m not a writer


I just haven’t felt like writing. The noise of life is too deafening.  The readers, few that they are, have demonstrated more interest in my co-parenting and other personal topics than in politics, which is loud, everywhere, and  therefore unavoidable. And I feel I should write about theses things,  rather than my own solipsistic mewling.

Things are crazy now. An isolated, paranoid, and vindictive child holds the keys to what he wants to make his kingdom. We watch astounded. Everyone accuses everyone else of lying, and thinks that that makes things equal. I begin to wonder if the US is a failed experiment:  If the Constitution can allow this, how can we ever make it right? Anyway, I could go on, but, as I said, you can find worry like this anywhere, and probably better written (The New Yorker has been great).

The sun is actually out, and we haven’t seen it in a while, so I think that I’ll take some sunshine over fretting.

portnoy

Another problem I’ve been having: I  have to decide who I want my audience to be? I guess the big question for every writer who has children is,  what will they think when they come across my writing one day, and am I okay with that? I’m in awe of some writers’ abilities to be brave and bold. I’m am neither. I could don’t think that I would have ever–as a child of living parents and children–had the guts to write Philip Roth’s line from Portnoy’s Complaint:

“I fucked my own family’s dinner.”

Good golly, and what great book.

 

Remember Yevgeniy Nikulin, the Russian hacker involved in a tug-of-war between the Washington and Moscow?


prague_heroThis is reposted. Nikulin is supposed to be in court in Prague on Tuesday. Will this hit the American Press?

We wrote about him last February, and wondered why the only articles we could find were in La Reppublica (Italy) and The Guardian (UK). He finally made it to the mainstream media in the US this week.  That link is to Newsweek, and it’s also on the websites of Reuters and the Daily Mail. It’s not the New York Times or the Washington Post, but it’s a start.

His trial was supposed to take place this week in Prague, where the Czechs are trying to decide which country to extradite him to: the one where he allegedly stole a few thousand dollars online (Russia) or the one where he is accused of the massive hacks of LinkedIn and Dropbox. Nikulin is claiming that the FBI was willing to let him off the hook if he confessed to hacking the DNC and Hillary Clinton. While I maintain a healthy skepticism of government, this seems pretty unlikely. It also seems a little strange that Russia is going to the mat over a mere petty criminal. Deals do get made, criminals are let off the hook, but what upside is there for the FBI in giving this guy immunity after Twittler had already won the election? My mind can run rampant with all sorts of theories, but I’m wondering how it would sit with LinkedIn and Dropbox if Nikulin got off scot-free, in addition to being set up with life in the US. And that doesn’t even touch how angry half of us would be if he turned out to be one of the DNC hackers and was then rewarded for it, especially by a president who would not want this information public (and nothing stays secret for long in the White Sieve House).

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