Frozen poop pills?!? Yes, that is what they are using to treat Clostridium difficile, or C diff, a bacteria that when over abundant in the bowel causes debilitating diarrhea. Samples of feces from a healthy donor with a good bacterial balance in the bowel are put in capsules that are acid resistant and frozen. The capsule is acid resistant so it will not dissolve before carrying the good bacteria to the intestines where it is needed. It is frozen to make it easier for the patient to swallow. The treatment has been very successful and that is great, but I have one word for the Doctors involved: suppositories!
I hadn't heard the story about Errol Flynn's genital warts until I came across it in The Dependent Magazine. They found it, in turn, from How Come I'm Dead, the 1985 autobiography of Vancouver coroner Glen McDonald.
Glen McGregor reports on his blog that he's seen a copy of Flynn's 1959 autopsy in which it's noted that Flynn did suffer from human papillomavirus, aka genital warts. But the story about his warts being cut off as souvenirs isn't included in the report. So it's not clear how much truth there is to the tale. We'll just have to take McDonald's word for it.
The autopsy concludes that the movie star's death was due to a number of factors associated with his flamboyant lifestyle, including heart disease, diverticulosis, and cirrhosis of the liver. However, during the final moments of the examination, MacDonald and Chief Pathologist Tom Harmon make another interesting discovery: a number of sizeable venereal warts on the end of Flynn's penis.
"Tom seemed fascinated," MacDonald will recall, "[and said] 'Look, I'm going to be lecturing at the Institute of Pathology and I just thought it might be of interest if I could remove these things and fix them in formaldehyde and use them as a visual aid.' 'No way!' I said. 'We're not going to do that. I don't want anything done that isn't relevant to the case because we're really in the limelight tonight. We're on the hot seat. How can we send Mr. Flynn back to his wife with part of his bloody endowment missing?'
However, when McDonald returns to the obervation room after a brief absence, he discovers that the venereal warts have disappeared.
"The first thing I noticed was that the VD warts had gone – vanished from the end of Mr. Flynn's penis," McDonald will continue. "Then I spotted a jar of formaldehyde on a shelf that looked suspiciously like it might contain VD warts. It did[...] I sighed and asked the Doc, 'Did you have to remove those bloody warts … Did Errol Flynn expire because he had warts on his dong?' Tom looked sheepish but we were both laughing at the utter silliness of the whole thing. 'Put them back,' I said, 'Right now!' Maybe the Doc had never seen warts of that enormity. Maybe he wanted a souvenir. I never did figure out why the temptation had been too great … So the bloody warts were fished out of the formaldehyde jar and, using the good offices of scotch tape, Doc Harmon and I stuck them back where they belonged. Everything was back to normal. And I was relieved to learn later, talking with the Chief Coroner in Los Angeles, that a further autopsy was performed and the results concurred in every respect with what we had found. The scotch tape was never mentioned."
I don't keep up with fashion trends. If I can't go somewhere wearing elastic-waist pants and a baggy T-shirt, then I don't want to go. But I think I'm in the minority. Or maybe it has something to do with age. Younger folks often seem to be obsessed with their appearance and are even willing to put their lives at risk just to look "good". For example, the government of Thailand has issued a health warning that proclaims black leggings put people at risk of catching Dengue Fever. I realize that might sound a bit paranoid, but they have a compelling reason behind the warning: the mosquitoes that transmit the disease are attracted to black and can easily bite through the thin fabric used to make the leggings. You can read more here.
As if "swine flu" wasn't bad enough, Scientific American is reporting that the Ebola virus has been detected in domestic pigs in the Philippines. The particular strain of the virus, Reston ebolavirus, is not known to cause fatal haemorrhagic fever in humans, but is still rated a class 4 pathogen by the US Center for Disease Control (it's highest rating) because of the extreme fatality rate and absence of effective treatment of the disease caused by other Ebola viruses. One farmhand who worked with the pigs has also tested positive for R.ebolavirus, but is asymptomatic.
In this case it seems like most likely that the pigs caught the disease from the human rather than the other way round. However that pigs can catch and potentially pass on the organism to humans is an unexpected, and worrying, development. Michael McIntosh of the Department of Agriculture expressed concern not only that the Reston strain might mutate into something more deadly in its new host, but that the other disease-causing strains might also be using pigs as a reservoir. "What is the level of risk?" said McIntosh, "We really don't know" (Scientific American Article) (Paper in Science).
A Belgian company has filed a patent for an invention designed to detect sick travelers in airports. They call it a device for the "RECOGNITION AND LOCALISATION OF PATHOLOGIC ANIMAL AND HUMAN SOUNDS."
The idea is to place microphones around airports that will zero in on the sound of people coughing. The people hacking their lungs out can then be prevented from boarding a plane. A less controversial use of the technology is to detect sick pigs in pig pens.
Can people be stopped from traveling because they have a cold? I've never seen that done, but I'd like it (despite the inconvenience to the sick people) 'cause otherwise they infect everyone else on the plane. Though of course, if I were the one kicked off a plane I'd be seeing red. (via New Scientist)
Brain worms can be contracted by eating undercooked pork, as well as by coming into contact with someone who has worm eggs in their body and who hasn't washed their hands.
But the good news about brain worms is that they're generally less dangerous than having a brain tumor. Which is why a Phoenix-area woman was relieved when her brain tumor turned out to be a brain worm. The reason I'm posting this on Weird Universe: because Fox 10 Chattanooga has a video of the worm being removed (still alive) from her brain.