While I’m out…

I’m dealing with my own little epidemic (daughter managed to catch the stomach bug that’s been going around her school, meaning she has to miss her last day as a kindergartener, poor thing). I found one post in the queue that I forgot to publish earlier in the month, so today won’t be completely dead. In the meantime, allow me to point you to some excellent flu posts by DemFromCT at the Daily Kos:
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Seed question of the week: justify my gloves

You’ve probably seen this floating around the other Seed blogs this week:

Since they’re funded by taxpayer dollars (through the NIH, NSF, and so on), should scientists have to justify their research agendas to the public, rather than just grant-making bodies?

I’m late to the game, but like others, my answer is “no”–with caveats. Elaboration after the jump.
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Emerging Disease and Zoonoses #15–Clostridium species

Species of the bacterium Clostridium have long been a scourge of humans. They are gram-positive, spore-forming bacteria that can be found in the soil around all of us. The spores then germinate when exposed to anaerobic conditions.

Clostridium botulinum is the cause of botulism, a serious and potentially fatal paralytic illness often caused by ingestion of contaminated foods. More recently, the bacterium has been used as the source of that anti-wrinkle miracle, BoTox: botulinum toxin type A, allowing all of Hollywood to smile without a wrinkly forehead (ah, the wonders of nature!). Clostridium tetani is the cause of tetanus, also known as “lockjaw“. In both cases, death is ultimately due to paralysis of the muscles that function in breathing. While antibiotics such as penicillin can kill the bacteria, by the time symptoms appear, it’s generally too late for such treatment: most of the symptoms are due to the toxins that these bacteria produce.
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