Category: Geography

(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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A Tale of Two Pox

By Rebecca Kreston | July 31, 2015 9:30 pm

Smallpox has haunted man for almost as long as we have been walking this earth. The variola virus that causes the deadly pox had been known to liquidate entire communities, towns, and cities since antiquity, stalking along trade routes and capitalizing upon human behavior and patterns of movement. Egyptian mummies unearthed from their tombs bear the pocked faces of fortunate survivors; Chinese emperors, Indian peasants, Russian Tzars, and Australian Aborigines – around the world, millions succumbed to virus in the centuries before the discovery of an effective vaccine.

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Tapeworm-Associated Epilepsy on the Rise

By Rebecca Kreston | June 30, 2015 5:50 pm

It was the work of the lunar god, a “disease of the moon,” thought the Mesopotamians. The Romans attributed it to demonic possession. Priests and peasants in the Middle Ages considered the “falling sickness” a contagious evil.

Today our understanding of seizures and epilepsy rests not with lunar cycles or the supernatural, but with scientific insights into the developing brain and the pathologies of various diseases. We now know that there are over forty different disease processes that can cause the syndrome known as epilepsy, ranging from metabolic disorders to tumors, from trauma to congenital diseases.

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Blood & Fog: The Military’s Germ Warfare Tests in San Francisco

By Rebecca Kreston | June 28, 2015 2:10 pm

The Nuremberg Code was drafted in 1947 following the appalling revelations of human experimentation committed in Nazi concentration camps. The overarching goal of the Code was to establish a set of rules for the ethical conduct of research using human subjects, guaranteeing that the rights and welfare of such participants would be protected. Two important principles guide and define this Code: the concept of voluntary, informed consent and that no experiment shall be conducted in which “there is an a priori reason to believe that death or disabling injury will occur.”

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