Category: Geography

An Anthrax Blast from the Past

By Rebecca Kreston | August 28, 2016 8:10 pm

A massive heat wave in the tundra of northern Siberia has ushered a twentieth century anthrax outbreak into the modern age. Over the past two months, the population of the isolated Yamal-Nenets region has been caught off guard by a pair of unprecedented emergencies, first in the form of a punishing heat wave with temperatures reaching 95F (35C), quickly followed by an anthrax outbreak as the 75-year-old corpses of infected reindeer have thawed from their permafrost biohazard coffins.

Read More

Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing: The “Epidemic” that Duped the Nazis

By Rebecca Kreston | May 31, 2016 8:35 pm

In September of 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, marking the beginning of World War II in Europe. By the war’s end in 1945, Poland had suffered the deaths of more than five and a half million citizens – a fifth of her pre-war population – with the majority of these the victims of war crimes at the hands of the Germans. A large community in southeastern Poland, however,  escaped persecution and the horrors of deportation and death thanks to an ingenious ruse employed by two Polish physicians. With the help of a sham “vaccine,” Drs. Eugene Lazowski and Stanisław Matulewicz fabricated a fictional epidemic that would save the lives of thousands.

Read More

The Origins of Intravenous Fluids

By Rebecca Kreston | May 31, 2016 4:50 pm

Flushing a vein with a liter of saline is standard protocol in clinics and hospitals. To receive fluids intravenously is an ubiquitous therapeutic, a common tool to alleviate many conditions, so standard that there are even businesses that offer an IV and a bag of saline as a cure for the common hangover.

Intravenous fluid resuscitation relies on the principle of replenishing our precious bodily fluids through delivery directly into the blood vessels, but where did this concept come from? How did a remedy that breaches the skin and veins, violating the sanctity of the human body to inject a liter of foreign substance enter the medical armamentarium? It has its origins in mankind’s quest to defeat a bacteria infamous for causing such prolific diarrhea that it causes fatal shock: cholera.

Read More

(Eye) Trouble in Paradise

By Rebecca Kreston | February 29, 2016 8:50 pm

Conjunctivitis, that infamous, sticky-itchy-oozy infection of the eye, can strike anywhere and anyone. For the most part, however, pink eye sticks to its preferred domain, afflicting youthful targets in schoolyard haunts where the infection spreads from dirty little hand to once-clean little eye with the tenacity and enthusiasm of wildfire. Though wholly reliant on direct inoculation to the eyeball, it is easily transmitted, whether by the sticky digits of children unfamiliar with good hygiene or via errant eye gunk inadvertently smeared on a communal surface.

Read More

Half of the World Has Herpes

By Rebecca Kreston | February 28, 2016 8:43 pm

In fact, just over a half of the world has herpes.

Over the course of the last year, the WHO released two articles exploring the prevalence of herpes infection worldwide and offering some hard numbers for an often overlooked viral infection. The WHO study uses the most recent estimates from 2012 and is the first attempt to calculate and identify the preponderance of herpes in the global population (1). What they find is that herpes is dang near everywhere and infects dang near everyone.

Read More

Brazil Cautions Women to Avoid Pregnancy over Zika Threat

By Rebecca Kreston | December 30, 2015 11:08 am

Authorities in Brazil have recently issued an unusual and unprecedented announcement to women: don’t get pregnant, at least not just yet. Amidst an intractable outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus, public health authorities in Brazil are highly suspicious of an unusual surge of cases of microcephaly among newborn children.

Read More

Canine Rabies Imported into America

By Rebecca Kreston | December 28, 2015 10:10 am

This past spring, a street dog and her puppy were captured in Cairo, Egypt. Her vaccination certificates were forged, and she was shipped to the United States by an animal rescue organization in a shipment that included seven other dogs and 27 cats. Days later, following  her placement in a Virginian foster home housing several other dogs, this rescue developed the frank signs and symptoms of rabies, and she was quickly euthanized.

Read More

Something Fishy in the Food Chain

By Rebecca Kreston | October 25, 2015 8:27 pm

The Pacific broad tapeworm thrives in the guts of the sea lions that frolic in the waves of the Pacific Ocean, has been identified in the preserved poop of Peruvians mummified some five millennia ago, and is now making its way to seafood-loving Europeans through the briny conduits of the world-wide commercial fish trade.

Read More

2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine Awarded to Research in Anti-Parasitic Drugs

By Rebecca Kreston | October 5, 2015 9:36 pm

Three scientists that developed treatments for debilitating parasitic infections were awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine today for their ground-breaking advancements in tropical medicine.

Read More

Tetanus, the Grinning Death

By Rebecca Kreston | September 29, 2015 8:00 pm

Infectious diseases have long been the companions of war and natural disaster. For those that barely escaped death in the calamities of antiquity, walking away with what appeared to be a light injury, the agony of a gangrenous wound or convulsive, back-breaking muscle spasms would deal an impending final blow. For centuries, a dreaded complication from an innocent blister or a bullet wound was the untreatable and catastrophic tetanus, caused by Clostridium tetani.

Read More

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Body Horrors

Body Horrors looks at the history, anthropology and geography of infectious diseases and parasites.

Science Seeker Award

Winner Badge

Open Lab 2012

Winner Badge
ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Collapse bottom bar
+