We often think about people spreading diseases around the world. This spring,vacationers brought chikungunya from the Caribbean to the United States. Businessmen have likely spread Ebola across international borders in West Africa. And health care workers have carried a new virus from the Middle East to Asia and Europe.
But what about (wo)man’s best friend?
From shelter mutts to purebred show dogs, canines across the state of Texas are becoming infected with a parasite that causes a potentially deadly disease in people, scientists report Wednesday in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Although the dogs aren’t spreading the parasite directly to people, they are helping to make the disease more prevalent in the southern U.S. (Not to mention the parasite can make dogs sick and even kill them.)
The disease is called Chagas. And it’s transmitted by an insect known as the kissing bug.
Don’t let the name fool you. This isn’t a friendly bug. The insect bites the faces and lips of sleeping people, then passes on the Chagas parasite through its fecal matter. (The parasite is a protist called Trypanosoma cruzi.)
About 300,000 people in the U.S. are infected with the Chagas parasite. Researchers have estimated that the disease cost the U.S. about $800 million each year in lost work time and medical bills.
Many people with Chagas’ disease don’t even know it. They have no symptoms. But for about a third of those infected, the parasite damages the heart or digestive tract. And there are no drugs to cure a chronic infection. So once the parasite takes up residency in somebody’s tissue, it never leaves.
Photo: Don’t let the name fool you. The kissing bug, or Rhodnius prolixus, isn’t your friend. The insect transmits the Chagas parasite when it bites someone’s face. (Dr. Erwin Huebner/University of Manitoba)
When Rotary set out to end polio more than 25 years ago, there were over 350,000 cases of this crippling disease every year. Children in 125 countries lost their ability to run, walk and play–forever. Since then, we’ve eradicated 99% of this devastating disease. The end is so close we can see it. Our generation will be the last to see the crippling effects of polio. What else will your generation be the last to see?
This was the first time that I realized that my own country, where we lament bad health care and florid corruption, could be seen as privileged. No child here has to die from hydrocephalus. That day I realized that the people for whom I advocate are more than the people of South Africa, more even than the people of Africa. As I walked out of the orphanage, all I could think of was how to fix this – this country I had never before seen nor felt particularly drawn towards. In the global village, the disenfranchised of Vietnam – and of any other country – are our compatriots, too.
One dewy morning back in May 2013, a dozen children gathered in an elementary school courtyard to play soccer in Addis Ababa. Seven-year-old Sisay Gudeta stood alone on the balcony above them.
Sisay poked his head through the arms of a rusty, blue guard rail, staring down at his classmates as they kickedan empty plastic bottle across the pavement. The kids rarely ask him to play, Sisay says. They are afraid to touch him, afraid of the bump on his back that stretches out his neatly pressed school sweater.
"He is such a beautiful child," Sisay’s grandmother says. "I ask God what I did to do this to him."
For reasons unknown, thousands of children in Ethiopia suffer from congenital spine conditions so severe that humps grow from their backs. Their spines resemble flattened pancakes and roller-coaster tracks, says Dr. Rick Hodes, an American who runs the onlyspine clinic in Addis Ababa, a city of 3 million people.
Such extreme scoliosis cases are found in many poor countries. But Hodes thinks that lack of screening and access to basic medical care leaves Ethiopia with some of the worst spines in the world.
If not effectively treated, scoliosis can lead to permanent deformity, disc injuries and neurological damage. Here in the U.S., the National Institutes of Health recommends doctors use a brace to help straighten a child’s back when the spine curves more than 25 to 30 degrees. When the curve reaches more than 45 degrees, surgery is often needed.
Yet thousands of Ethiopian children receive no medical treatment for their scoliosis. In villages, a traditional healer may try to flatten the child’s back by pressing hot rocks to the skin. Others with twisted spines and humpbacks are ostracized or abandoned and left to die.
Photo: Sisay Gudeta, then age 7, sits on his bed at his home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, May 2013. At the time, his spine curved about 120 degrees. Without surgery, Sisay’s scoliosis would have killed before age 18, doctors said. (Andrew Dickinson for NPR)
To celebrate the 15th anniversary of NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, four new images of supernova remnants are being released. These spectacular cosmic vistas are the glowing debris fields that were created when massive stars exploded at the ends of their lives.
Chandra, one of NASA’s current “Great Observatories,” along with the Hubble Space Telescope and Spitzer Space Telescope, is specially designed to detect X-ray emission from hot and energetic regions of the universe. It obits up to 86,500 miles above the Earth.
To celebrate Chandra’s 15th anniversary, four new images of supernova remnants – the Crab Nebula, Tycho, G292.0+1.8, and 3C58 – were released by the space agency. These supernova remnants are very hot and energetic and glow brightly in X-ray light, which allows Chandra to capture them in exquisite detail. See a larger version here.
Facebook Explains Why It Wants to Be a Retail Store
There’s a new internet retailer on the world’s smartphones, tablets, and PCs. It’s called Facebook.
Last week, Mark Zuckerberg and company started testing a “Buy” button inside the News Feed posts and ads that turn up on the world’s most popular social network, letting users instantly pay for goods and services from other merchants without leaving Facebook. The button provides an added level of convenience for those who spend so much of their time on Facebook already, and it marks the beginning of a new stage in the company’s evolution into a significant money-making machine.
I fee like my blog is becoming a 3-D printing blog.. but I can’t stop! How amazing is this? Honestly, looking at a liver, it just seems like a big hard block of tissue. It’s very hard to visualize the vessels going through the liver, and when you are removing a tumor or cancerous tissue, it can be very difficult.
Dr. Zein’s team from Cleveland Clinic has used this method in over 30 cases so far with very high success rates. It has allowed his team to decrease the amount of time in operation, and prepare more thoroughly!
I love these transparent livers.. I really need one for my room.
Cities at Night was launched by some Spanish astrophysicists who started following an astronaut’s Twitter account. “For us his nighttime pictures were like fire for a firefighter—it’s pretty, but you must control it,” says Alejandro Sanchez from Complutense University of Madrid. “We want to make the nighttime images useful for citizens, journalists, and scientists. And make this beauty accessible—but also make people think about if all this waste of energy is really needed.”