Category Archives: Medicine

Some things never change. Other things change.

Babe Ruth was born on February 6, 1895.  Today is his birthday.

Some things never change.  “The Babe” will always be known as one of the greatest sluggers to ever play professional baseball.  Modern athletes may be getting bigger, faster and stronger, but nobody has truly been able to touch upon Ruth’s legacy.

Some things, however, do change.  Check out this picture, courtesy of Andy Gray at Sport’s Illustrated’s SI Vault.  It shows a 13-year-old patient lighting Babe’s pipe….  at the hospital, while she is apparently confined to a bed.

/hat tip to Andy Gray @si_vault.

A COMMUNICABLE COMPROMISE: scientists reluctantly agree to delay Armageddon for sixty days

Whew.  We’ve been granted a respite.

On Friday, researchers from Erasmus Medical College in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and the University of Wisconsin – Madison agreed to a sixty day moratorium on research involving a highly contagious strain of bird flu.  The voluntary agreement was published in Nature and Science, two prominent scientific journals.

The research involved earlier experimentation that created a new, fatal strain of the H5N1 bird flu.  The critical component of the new strain is its communicability: research has shown that is capable of being transmitted from one ferret to another ferret.  The animals are considered fairly reliable indicators of the behavior of influenza viruses in human communities, which means that this newly engineered strain of H5N1 may be capable of being transmitted from one human to another human.

The experimentation sparked immediate concern among the scientific community and world governments.  Many responses focused on the possibility that the new strain could escape from the confines of the laboratory, spread among the world’s population and kill upwards of tens of millions of people.  At least a handful of prominent scientists claimed that the research should never have been conducted and that the risks outweighed any potential benefit that could be derived from the work.

In an uncanny coincidence, two days after researchers declared the moratorium, China announced that a 39-year old man who had no contact with poultry died from the bird flu.  The report of the death came just one week after separate deaths from bird flu were reported in Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia.

Pretty eerie timing… almost too eerie.  It’s really hard to pass up this opportunity to try to make a tongue-in-cheek comment about coincidences, conspiracy theories and the frightening possibility that the influenza virus has already escaped the laboratories.

But I won’t.  Not this time.  Not ever again.  I promise.

Instead, I’ll simply close by very, very, very carefully noting that the media is now reporting that the Department of Homeland Security is actively monitoring blogs that  cover the avian flu.

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THE MAN WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO: courageous man stumbles upon an artsy alternative to Viagra

I’ve already posted a handful of cautionary tales that involve suspect medical procedures.  For example, we’ve recently explored the perils associated with phony doctors who smoke cigars while performing liposuction, the dangers of hiring a stranger to inject cement into the buttocks and unfortunate complications that may arise from using teeth to castrate sheep.  It’s time to add another questionable practice to the list.

According to MSNBC.com, a recent article in the Journal of Sexual Medicine details the trials and tribulations of a somewhat confused Iranian man who received a very special tattoo that paid homage to his girlfriend.  The tattoo was inked on his penis.

The script of the tattoo reads borow be salaamat, which translates to “good luck on your journeys.”  The text was followed by the first letter of his girlfriends’ surname, M.  The man apparently believes that this was an appropriate way to permanently mark the most sensitive area of his body.

At least the procedure was successful.  Sort of.  The tattoo was inked, but the man is now experiencing a somewhat troubling side-effect: his soldier is now standing at attention and showing no signs of retreat.

And yes, this very disturbing man will never again need to fill a prescription for Viagra.

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: infectious diseases, conspiracy theories and a couple of birds give rise to a very contagious new year

I’ve already proudly admitted that I’m a bit of a geek.  I own multiple editions of the original Star Wars trilogy, know far too much about the secret origins of comic book heroes, and long ago recognized the literary genius of George R. R. Martin.  Hell, at any given time there are more USB cables dangling from my computer than cans of food in my pantry… and I get really, really excited when I find an effective way to simultaneously use each of those USB cables.

This also means that I’m privy to secretive knowledge and information that often eludes the general public.  I understand, for example, how to recognize the cunning actions of a global conspiracy that seeks to suppress contemporary political, economic and social systems and install the fabled New World Order.

It’s true folks.  You may not want to believe it, but you really need to believe it.

The latest treacherous ploy was subtly undertaken while the country was distracted by Thanksgiving, Christmas and National Cupcake Day.  It almost slipped the attention of the mainstream media… perhaps because these mainstream media is largely a pawn for these dark forces.

The plot originates with Aves Palaneognathae and Aves Neognathe.  The general public often refers to these vicious little harbingers of death as “birds.”  They’re again spreading the bird flu, and humanity needs to stand up and take notice of the implications.  Again, you may not want to take notice, but you really need to take notice.

Look, I’ve seen enough George Romero flicks to know that outbreaks of disease are often the result of seemingly inconspicuous medical research gone awry.  Max Brooks holds a special place on my bookshelf, if for no other reason than his written effort to explain the implications of these outbreaks.  Fox Mulder and Dana Scully tried to bring widespread attention to the manipulation of these situations by powerful yet secret organizations.  They were, however, discredited by the unseen powers, who falsely depicted them as fictional characters and cancelled their broadcasts.

Not surprisingly, researchers have created a new highly contagious and fatal strain of the H5N1 bird flu.  They manipulated the existing virus, mucking around with its structure and tinkering with its properties, until they crafted a new strain that is now likely able to be transmitted between humans.  If the genetically altered strain is truly able to be passed from one person to another, it could cause a global flu pandemic that could kill upwards of 50 million people.  Or more.

The World Health Organization’s response has been underwhelming.   In its initial statement, WHO minimized the global consequences of the research, likely in an attempt to quell the public’s appreciation of the gravity of the situation.  It first said that

[w]hile it is clear that conducting research to gain such knowledge must continue, it is also clear that certain research, and especially that which can generate more dangerous forms of the virus….has risks

Of course, the organization followed this statement by issuing more nonsense.  It almost casually noted that it was “deeply concerned about the potential negative consequences” of the research.

Potential schmotential.  There are actual consequences.  Even the current strain of H5N1 is highly pathogenic and kills most birds and nearly 60 percent of the people it infects.  It has already infected nearly 600 people, killing nearly 350It has also resulted in the culling or killing of over 400 birds and has caused economic losses that have been estimated at $20 billion.

Fear not, though.  The media claims that bird flu should have already been eliminated from nearly all of the countries that experienced exposure to it.

Whatever.  Two birds recently tested positive for H5N1 in Hong Kong.  Eight Cambodians recently died after being infected with the bird flu.  Not surprisingly, several weeks ago, a Chinese male recently tested positive for a contagious strain of avian flu.  He almost immediately died of multiple organ failure… yet the populous is supposed to take comfort in the suggestion that the disease has been eliminated in nearly all relevant countries.  Again, whatever.

At least two fearless men are now demonstrating remarkable courage in speaking out against the manipulation of the H5N1 virus.  Dr. D. A. Henderson, a scholar at the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and a leader in eradicating the smallpox virus, claims that the research should never have been conducted and that the risks outweighed any potential benefit that could be derived from the work.  Dr. Richard H. Ebright,  a professor at Rutgers University and an an expert in bioweapons, agreed with Dr. Henderson, but further explained that:

This research should not have been done…  [The manipulated strain] will inevitably escape, and within a decade.

If their opinions and predictions translate to reality, 2012 is going to be a wild ride.  Break out those tinfoil hats, folks.  They may not protect you from the bird flu, but at least they block the mind probe.

/sarcasm

PERFORMANCE ENHANCEMENTS? Major League Baseball, Ryan Braun, the MD Anderson Cancer Center and a group of obese monkeys

Major League Baseball ended the week on a sour note, and the hype surrounding free agency and successful labor negotiations may not dominate mainstream headlines in the immediate future.

Last night, ESPN reported that National League MVP Ryan Braun stands accused of testing positive for a banned performance enhancing substance. Buster Olney correctly explains that Braun is one of the most prominent professional baseball players to be associated with performance enhancing drugs. He faces a 50 game suspension if the allegations prove true.

The breaking news isn’t the only recent story to address the use of performance enhancing drugs by big leaguers. For example:

  • Last week, Major League Baseball officially reinstated Manny Ramirez. He previously retired from the sport after learning that he would serve a 100 game suspension. The suspension is the result of a second positive test that related to his alleged use of performance enhancing drugs.
  • Federal prosecutors requested that Home Run Champ Barry Bonds be sentenced to serve time in prison for obstructing a grand jury’s investigation into the manufacture, distribution and use of performance enhancing drugs. He is eligible for probation but may also be sentenced to serve between 15 and 21 months in prison. The proceedings commence next week.

I’m not going to cover the details associated with these recent developments, the benefits and risks related to performance enhancing substances or the merits of the policies adopted by professional sports organizations. These are complex and controversial issues Read more of this post

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