Grand Rounds 2.31, a gross-out, and some nagging

Yeah, I think the title about covers it.

This week’s Grand Rounds is up over at The Health Business blog. A few posts I’d like to highlight this week: this one at inkycircus about a pinworm infestation, complete with video link. (Probably not for the faint of heart!)

How evil (ew ew ew ew) is this: after laying eggs around the anus, the female worm secretes an itching agent, which causes the host to scratch his or her ass, thereby transferring the eggs to the fingers, a mere hop skip and jump away from more oral ingestion. And so, the ew ew ew ew ew EW life cycle continues. But take comfort: they don’t cause any major bodily harm. They might just disturb your sleep though by triggering itching and “crawling” sensations.

The second is from donorcycle, reminding us that April is organ donor awareness month. So in case you haven’t filled out your cards or talked with your loved ones about what you want done with your spare parts in the event of your demise, put it on your “to do” list.

Shopping for a graduate school?

Have some money to burn? Don’t get enough creationist readings on teh intraweb? How about getting a Master’s Degree in “Creation Science?” After all, it’s academically rigorous:

Each MS candidate is required to take six science education courses, three science courses and two electives. Applicants must already possess a bachelor’s degree in a field of science or in science education. All 11 courses will be offered online.

Or, not:

Each online course approaches the content the same way ICR’s scientists approach the study of origins: if an idea, scientific or otherwise, is contrary to God’s Word, it is false.

Emerging Disease and Zoonoses #12–Salmonella from fish

So, I’ve had this research article on multiple drug-resistant Salmonella in the drafts section for about a week now, waiting for me to do a bit of background research before commenting on it. (Anything involving Salmonella always makes me a bit hesitant–one almost needs a PhD on the bacterium just to keep up with the nomenclature). This morning I’m doing my quick glance-through of my blogroll, and lo and behold, what do I find but these posts by Mike the Mad Biologist, who just happens to have been quoted in the New York Times write-up of the research.
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Inaugural Pediatric Grand Rounds

This was mentioned in the comments here, but I wanted to draw attention to it in a main post as well. Clark has started a new carnival for pediatric health issues. As he notes:

A popular saying in pediatrics is that children aren’t just little adults. The wisdom of taking this to heart when approaching all aspects of pediatric health becomes clearer every day as I progress through my training. Kids are unique and have health issues every bit as interesting and complex as adults, and the people who raise, counsel, and treat them deserve a forum to discuss these issues. I had the idea to start a pediatric version of Grand Rounds a couple of weeks ago and I received some great submissions that are a solid foundation to build on.

As a mom and a researcher who works with several pathogens that disproportionately affect the kiddies, it sounds like a good idea to me! The first offering was posted yesterday; check it out.

Saturday roundup

Again, I never get to discuss all the topics I find interesting. So to keep you busy over the weekend, check out a few that I didn’t have time to emphasize this week:

Neurotopia on the zombies among us.

Orac’s series on medicine and evolution:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 4a

New studies suggesting that mercury fillings aren’t harmful.

Can you name that virus over at Buridan’s ass?

Professional societies spurning women editors? (More here from Evolgen).

Ewen on the science behind the recent monoclonal antibody drug trial gone bad.

The National Science Foundation website is up for a Webby award, the “online Oscars.” Voting runs through May 5th.

Dr. Flea on not treating ear infections. (Yes, you read that correctly).

Grrlscientist notes that even those without a subscription can get an issue of Science free, emphasizing avian influenza.

Science magazine encourages scientists to blog–read more about it here or here.

On a related note, a post on involving scientists in politics in order to minimize “the Partisan Takeover of Biology.”

Finally, Clark’s working on starting up a Pediatric blog carnival:

I will accept anything that is relevant to pediatric health issues but you don’t have to be a pediatrician to contribute. I’d love to hear from nurses, counselors, scientists, teachers, parents, etc, etc. I won’t peg down a date just yet. I’ll just see what kind of response I get first.

Have a good weekend!

*sigh* Influenza pandemic not guaranteed? Gee, no kidding…

Skeptics warn bird flu fears are overblown

Doomsday predictions about bird flu seem to be spreading faster than the virus itself. But a small group of skeptics say the bird flu hype is overblown and ultimately harmful to the public’s health.

There’s no guarantee bird flu will become a pandemic, and if it does there’s no guarantee it will kill millions of people. The real trouble, these skeptics say, is that bird flu hysteria is sapping money and attention away from more important health threats.

While I agree with some points the so-called “skeptics” make (we don’t know if H5N1 will become pandemic, some people’s concern about “bird flu” is disproportionate to the threat, etc.), what I don’t agree with are their strawman characterizations of the public health response, discussed below.
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California woman has plague

California woman hospitalized with plague

Health officials in Los Angeles have confirmed the city’s first human case of bubonic plague in more than two decades.

They say a woman, who was not identified, was admitted April 13 with a fever, swollen lymph nodes and other symptoms. A blood test confirmed she had contracted the bacterial disease. Officials said she was placed on antibiotics and is in stable condition.

Though this case is notable because it’s the first one reported in Los Angeles in decades, plague is endemic in many areas of the United States, though it’s infrequently transmitted to humans (we average between 10-20 human cases a year, mostly in the southwestern states). Like the recent mumps outbreak, this should serve as a reminder that even when we have a disease under control, it doesn’t mean it’s been eradicated. Luckily, plague can be fairly easily treated with antibiotics and therefore it’s not nearly the threat it was during the era of the Black Death, but concerns persist that the bacterium (Yersinia pestis) could be used for bioterrorism, in which case the biggest worry is that antibiotic-resistant bacteria could be released.