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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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.

 


About what I should be posting.

In the meantime, one cartoonist’s view of the Rapture. Hmmm, maybe I should convert.

The Great Snatch

Parasite Attack! Flesh-eating Worms in the United States!


 

A Meta-Bug News Roundup

Screwworms in Florida

The New World screwworm, Cochliomyia homnivorax, isn’t probably something you think about. Fortunately, you don’t have to. The screwworm, a larval form of a fly, has been eradicated in the United States since 1982.

220px-Cochliomyia_hominivorax_(Coquerel,_1858)220px-Screwworm_larva

Unlike maggots, which eat only dead flesh, the screwworm eats live tissue. When I was in Haiti recently, I saw what they are capable of. Any wound, any abrasion, any cut is an invitation for the flies to show up. Then the larvae come out, and work their way not just into the necrotic parts, but the actual live tissue.

Screwworms obviously present a serious danger to livestock. I can even find you a gross story where they went into a woman’s ear. But since the ’50s, researchers began experimenting with the release of sterile male flies, first on the relatively controlled setting of an island, and then on the mainland. By 1982, there were no more screwworms in the US.

Naturally, flies don’t recognize international borders, so in partnership with Mexico and the nations of Central America, the screwworm has been restricted to south of the isthmus of Panama, a bottleneck that is relatively easy to defend. The breeding of sterile males is ongoing in Panama.

Recently, 40 endangered Key Deer had to be euthanized in Florida when it was discovered that they were infested with screwworms. Sterile males were introduced, the Florida Department of Agriculture set up inspection stations in Key Largo for animals leaving the keys, and the outbreak was contained.

 

Robert Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, has died.

“When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called a Religion.”

pirsig

Here’s a passage  from Zen  that I always found interesting.

Things are getting worse.

Twittler has proposed huge tax cuts, and naturally they benefit him and those in high income brackets the most. They propose eliminating the inheritance tax, which is probably the best tax we have: WE’RE TAXING DEAD RICH PEOPLE! They’re decomposing, they can’t complain, and if their whiny little offspring think it’s just horrible that they have to be just a tiny bit like the rest of us (which they won’t, they’ll still be stinking rich), well, they can commiserate in their gated communities and in their country clubs, just like they always have. The Great Unwashed will be able to perhaps feed and educate their children a little better. It’s understandable how those at the top don’t really want a level playing field, but keeping the “Paris Hilton” tax–or maybe we should call it the Trump Kids Tax–is a good thing. Just ask Teddy Roosevelt. Whatever you name it, don’t let anyone get away with calling it a “death tax.” It’s not.  It’s a tax on plutocracy and oligarchy.

I can’t write anymore today. A buffoon is fucking up or determined to fuck up so many things at once–relations with Canada and Mexico, military policy, health care, foreign trade– that it’s overwhelming. As I’ve written before, there’s a good chance that the American Experiment has failed, and the wise will at least be keeping an eye open on an exit strategy. While I’m here, I will work to make this a better and safer place, but I do not believe that this is the best place for my children to plan their future in.

My Street Band Made the New York Times, Marching for Science


Woohoo.

Here we are, the Jamaica Plain Honk Band (subsumed for the day by the Boston Area Brigade of Activist Musicians, otherwise known as BABAM). That figure on the right , sort of behind and to the side of the tuba player?  The guy whose head is out of the picture, but you can see the blue raincoat? Yeah, that’s me. Promise. And that’s E, our young brass player, leading the charge. 25MARCH34-superJumbo

Shavuah Tov. Impeach Drumpf.


Marched for science today. We all got together and spent over four hours outside on a ridiculously cold and drizzly late April day agreeing that we like science, that we are sorry that the current administration doesn’t, and that we wish that would change. The only hope that anyone saw was that Tangerine Jesus might get a chronic disease for which there is no cure, in which case he might fund research for it. It wouldn’t cover much, but it’s a start.dog protester

I was there with a street band, and I have to admit that if you’re gonna protest, it’s more fun playing music than it is listening to speeches.  Google “march for science signs” if you’re in need of a laugh.

(Social) Media Shabbat


I’m concentrating on what I’m trying not to think about for the next 25 hours.

  • Don’t think about Neil Gorsuch, and how a 5-4 vote sent a man in Arkansas to lethal injection, part of the state’s planned Execution Fest.
  • Don’t think about how Berkeley is playing into the hands of right-wing whack jobs by saying that Ann Coulter couldn’t speak there safely. Kudos to the Young Assholes Sycophants Smarmy Army Republicans for picking provocateurs instead of someone who would actually put together a cohesive argument for conservative policies. We now know that you don’t need to be middle-aged and embittered in to subscribe to the Fuck You School of Political Thought.
  • Don’t think about Marine Le Pen, and how the terrorist attack on the Champs Elysee might help her get elected.
  • Don’t think about the Great Barrier Reef.
  • coral bleaching

Alas, I’m marching for science tomorrow with BABAM (Boston Area Brigade of Activist Musicians), so I’ll have to think about the Handbasket Express at least a little bit.  I’ll be there with bells on, literally (Ich spiele glocken).

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