Monday morning blahs

Busy again today, and we’re hosting a talk by Darrell Trampel, an expert on poultry diseases. (He’ll be talking about avian influenza). Still have a few stories to get to in the queue but may be short on time for the rest of the week once again. In the meantime, bask in the cuteness of new puppy:

Iowa/Vander Plaats update

I mentioned the situation with Lieutenant Governor candidate Bob Vander Plaats and his support of intelligent design last week (posts here and here). A group of us have put together an editorial discussing Vander Plaats’ position and why it matters to Iowa voters (letter and signatories can be found here at the Iowa Citizens for Science site). Yesterday, a columnist for the Des Moines register also wrote up the story, and our response to it:
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The failure of alternative medicine

I previously blogged an editorial by NBC medical correspondent Robert Bazell, where he told scientists to “quit whining” about intelligent design and instead work on teaching “values.” While I agreed with him there on the science (he made it clear he gave no respect to “intelligent design” and other types of creationism), his suggestion that teachers and scientists spend more time worrying (and teaching) about more “practical” things such as biotechnology and medical ethics was just, in my opinion, wrong. Luckily, his new editorial on alternative medicine contains no such red herrings.
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Lax vaccination requirements = more pertussis

Orac has an excellent post discussing the rise in pertussis (“whooping cough”) in many areas, and its correlation with easier exemption from mandatory vaccination (using a “personal belief” exemption in addition to a religious exemption, for example). I’ve written about pertussis previously, and a problem is that the vaccine effectiveness quickly wanes, so that adults frequently lack significant immunity. While we rarely get sick, we can be carriers of the bacterium and infect children around us. As such, new recommendations suggest that adults also should get a pertussis booster. I worry that it’s only going to get worse in areas where there’s so much anti-vaccine sentiment; kids not being vaccinated, parents with waning immunity spreading the bacterium, and an ever-growing incidence of disease due to Bordatella pertussis. Yes, it’s just another one of those “pesky childhood diseases,” but like mumps, measles, and chickenpox, people often forget the scourge it once was–and has the potential to be in the future.

Viruses may influence memory

Regular readers know an interest of mine are infections that cause more than just the typical acute spectrum of disease. For example, I’ve written on the role microbes might play in obesity, or the role of viruses in chronic disease such as cancer and, of course, AIDS. Still, typically, infections are thought of as acute and self-limited; that is, they infect the individual, cause illness, and are resolved in a matter of days or weeks, even though we know that this doesn’t always happen. And increasingly, we’re finding that infections are associated with all kinds of long-term diseases or conditions, either causally or as a co-factor. A recent article highlights one area of investigation: how viral infections can influence memory problems.

(More after the jump)
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Return from the dead

Apologies for the radio silence, so to speak. October has been a killer month for me and November won’t be that much better, but I’ll work on getting back to posting on a regular basis, including a new post for tomorrow. In the meantime, a few things to check out:

Mike on treating strep throat (which he’s correct is near and dear to my heart–though not literally, thankfully, since they can cause heart disease!).

A belated Friday the 13th Tangled Bank

Last week’s Grand Rounds.