Listening to all the Chatter

Ever been to a particularly noisy place like a bar, or tried to listen to a conversation on a train or bus? Or tried to carry on a conversation in a busy restaurant? Unless the background noise is deafening, we can usually filter out virtually all other noise and hear the other person although often …

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The (Not so) Spanish Flu, and How it Became the Deadliest Epidemic in Modern Time.

I had a little bird, its name was Enza. I opened the window, and in flew Enza.      ~Children’s rhyme of 1917 In early March 2018 a mess cook at an Army base in Kansas reported to the infirmary complaining of sore throat, headache, and fever. After being checked over, the doctor could find no …

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The Eradication of Smallpox and the Helper T-Cells

In May of 1980, the World Health Organization (WHO) pronounced, after two centuries, that the fight against smallpox had ended. This meant that there were no known cases of the disease anywhere on the planet. Many other infectious diseases have returned from the brink of extinction, but few have been so deadly as the only …

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On Being a Disease Detective

  Recently, I was asked what a disease detective did. While I considered my response, a situation came to mind from a few years back that captured the process perfectly. The following events are true, the names of been changed to protect the innocent, namely me. Shifu: This can't be right, it must be a …

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Opinions are Not Facts, and Things are seldom as they first appear.

“The rise of childhood obesity has placed the health of an entire generation at risk.” ~Tom Vilsack  Often of late, we hear non-experts make sweeping pronouncements on subjects from healthcare and education to socioeconomics. Seldom do they add anything to the conversation, instead muddying the already perturbed waters. While we certainly cannot fault someone for …

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Cyclospora Infection: What it is, where it came from, and why you want to avoid it.

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued warnings concerning infection by a parasitic protozoan named Cyclospora cayetanensis. This pathogen was first identified in the late 1970s, making it a relative newcomer in the realm of human misery. The protozoan was first identified as a form of blue-green algae, and later as a …

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Tick-Bourne Disease: Separating Fact from Fiction.

Recently, during an outing, a family friend tried to explain to me the dangers of a new disease. She said she had learned all about “Powassan disease” from a friend on social media. Now, this person knows well what I do, yet in an excited tone, proceeded to explain to me about this new disease, …

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