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I really dig infectious diseases (much to the dismay of those dining with me).
September 24, 2011 8:30 PM   Subscribe

How did hookworm infections slow the economy of the postbellum South? Do body mites play a role in diseases such as rosacea? Did fermenting seal flippers in Tupperware instead of traditional containers increase Native Alaskan botulism rates? Body Horrors is the blog of microbiologist Rebecca Kreston, who aims to explore the intersection of infectious diseases, the human body, public health and anthropology.
posted by emjaybee (36 comments total) 59 users marked this as a favorite

 
Radiolab on hookworms.
posted by neuron at 8:31 PM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Radiolab on hookworms.

Oh hell no *closes tab*
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:36 PM on September 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


YEAH NO THANKX
posted by rhizome at 8:39 PM on September 24, 2011


Just a shot glass of Gatorade,
makes the worm eggs go down,
worm eggs go down,
worm eggs go down.

Worms as an effective treatment for ulcerative colitis
posted by chambers at 8:46 PM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh hell no *closes tab*

YEAH NO THANKX


Am I the only one who thought the hookworm looked kind of cute?
posted by MaryDellamorte at 9:01 PM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is an interesting topic that is often (willfully) ignored. Yes, your body is an ecosystem (did you know that there are at least ten times as many bacteria as human cells in the body?). Get over it. I for one live peacefully with my little parasitic/symbiotic housemates.

The threadworm article is great:
The threadworm larva takes a rather circuitous trip after penetrating the soles of your naked feet, embarking upon a veritable survey of the human body – migrating through the circulation system to the lungs, crawling up the respiratory tract to be swallowed and ultimately delivered to their new home in the small intestine.

. . .

The linear-looking rash is caused by migrating larva and physicians have noted that they can often follow the tracks of the quickly-moving larva, hence the name. Really, there’s nothing like knowing you’re parasitized till you see the buggers’ route under your skin.
Cool!
posted by troll at 9:04 PM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK, this made me light headed and swoony.....with excitement! No, I'm not a freak, and some of Kreston's detailed descriptions gave me the heebie jeebies, but this kind of stuff is so fascinating and quite absorbing, even if it does make me itch a little.
posted by but no cigar at 9:04 PM on September 24, 2011


The skinned seal flippers look like used-up facehuggers. Great post!
posted by Renoroc at 9:07 PM on September 24, 2011


Keep those bird mites away from me-- and I am not kidding'
posted by emhutchinson at 9:07 PM on September 24, 2011


Fascinating!
posted by ocherdraco at 9:13 PM on September 24, 2011


Aw (or maybe ew), this brings me back to my grad school days working on African trypanosomes, which cause sleeping sickness in humans and an analogous disease in most breeds of cattle. They have some interesting biochemical processes, which was what our lab was working on, but we couldn't help getting a little real-world information by osmosis. It was pretty well accepted that the existence today of nature preserves in many parts of Africa was due to the presence of these diseases, which wild animals are mostly resistant to. Areas free of trypanosomes were occupied by humans and their cattle long ago, resulting in the usual environmental impact. Ironically, these devastating diseases protected species and ecosystems that would have been wiped out if people had hunted, farmed, built up, paved, and trashed those areas.

Neat blog, hope she does something about my favorite little squirmies.
posted by Quietgal at 9:28 PM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


This post misses the opportunity to make use of the creepyfrogpuppet tag.

Let's hear from our old friend Ro-Revus, (previously) on the subject of parasitic worms and the dangers of using the out-of-doors as a bathroom.
posted by mumkin at 10:30 PM on September 24, 2011


Radiolab and Hookworks: two horrid things that taste great together.
posted by spitbull at 11:15 PM on September 24, 2011


A great blog to share with a squeamish neighbor or two.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:31 PM on September 24, 2011


I suddenly realize why my mom, who is from the south, never EVER let me go outside barefoot. Little did she know it would result in my bringing shame upon the family by going out in public in those stupid shoes with toes....

I've never gotten to walk barefoot outside because I have no callouses. My FiveFingers are great. Although, people deal with grass between their toes? Seriously? That's messed up.
posted by smartyboots at 11:36 PM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, I have lymphocytic colitis, and a tonne of eczema and autoimmune stuff, and I wish like hell I could take some whip or hookworms. Tried to get into studies here, but microscopic colitis is never included in the trials, sigh, only ulcerative. I would drink those puppies like a shot if I could.
posted by smoke at 12:51 AM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, your body is an ecosystem (did you know that there are at least ten times as many bacteria as human cells in the body?).

I did know this! But here's a follow-up question: is the same true for every other animal, as well? Or do humans have a much higher amount of these wee beasties?
posted by curious nu at 6:15 AM on September 25, 2011


Did this post totally make me wretch firs thing in the morning as I am eating my waffles? YES
posted by stormpooper at 6:45 AM on September 25, 2011


Me too, smartyboots. As a kid, I read some '70s children's book that mentioned how lovely it is to splash in a mud puddle barefoot and squish the mud between your toes. I tried it in the backyard in Mississippi, and although it was lovely, it provoked a surprisingly strong parental response. I wonder where that children's book author was from.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:19 AM on September 25, 2011


hookworm isn't really that much of a problem outside of the South.
posted by beefetish at 8:31 AM on September 25, 2011


Filed under "Do Not Click".
posted by tommasz at 8:40 AM on September 25, 2011


This is absolutely fascinating.
posted by Solomon at 8:47 AM on September 25, 2011


I itch now.
posted by annsunny at 9:53 AM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


The treatment of rosacea due to mites seems to be the approach of one physician who tried it on herself. She thinks it might come from pets.
posted by Brian B. at 10:15 AM on September 25, 2011


Hmm, I don't have allergies, but my acne seems to flare up when my immune response skews towards Th1. Wonder if I should experiment by giving myself some parasites...

Then again, I'm trying to gain weight and eat like someone twice my size but I can't break the BMI of 21 barrier so maybe I've already got some.
posted by porpoise at 10:56 AM on September 25, 2011


After some digging, it looks like experts dismiss the role of mites in rosacea. But here are other zoonotic diseases we can get from cats.
posted by Brian B. at 11:03 AM on September 25, 2011


I remember the hookworms mainly from To Kill A Mockingbird.
posted by maryr at 1:24 PM on September 25, 2011


It's fascinating stuff, but it makes my twitchy.
posted by theora55 at 5:35 PM on September 25, 2011


The film embedded in the article is amazing - they were able to show living hookworms hatching out, living in dewdrops on leaves, and entering skin pores? Circa 1910? Why, they didn't even have MS Paint back then! In my school in the 1960's we were still watching badly drawn filmstrips.

Also, some very interesting discussion of the relationship between hookworm infestation rates and economic success, before and after the Rockefellers' intervention.
posted by sneebler at 6:14 PM on September 25, 2011


imagined radiolab hookworm segment:
"The hookworm then attaches a hook to the intestinal wall and slides its eggs into the bloodstream."
"the bloodstream?"
"yes. The bloodstream"
(Rolls biting sound effect, then plays slide whistle.)
posted by silkyd at 9:34 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Your body is an ecosystem" should so be a Weird Al song.
posted by sudama at 7:59 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


All of a sudden, delusional parasitosis seems completely rational.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:17 AM on September 26, 2011


sudama: "Your body is an ecosystem" should so be a Weird Al song.

That, or a Soundtrack of Science; Cellular Haze comes close.
posted by troll at 11:46 AM on September 26, 2011


smartyboots: I suddenly realize why my mom, who is from the south, never EVER let me go outside barefoot. [...] I have no callouses.

I realize this is only a single datapoint and I do live in the north, but I did (and do) go outside relatively often without shoes. The callouses take some time to develop them, but if you put up with a few days of your feet hurting, you'll get them, too.

I went through a period of time in highschool (after reading about things like this) where I kept thinking "Maybe I've got these crazy parasites". Well, after some serious gastrointestinal issues brought on by antibiotics I finally got tested for most of the primary fecal parasites and turns out I didn't have any. As a side note, giving a stool sample is officially my least fun medical experience - and I've had a colonoscopy (really, not too bad, and I got pictures of my colon!).
posted by nTeleKy at 2:32 PM on September 26, 2011


You can also develop all sorts of callouses while wearing shoes. This is why good shoes cost money and usually don't come from Target.
posted by maryr at 8:57 PM on September 26, 2011


There's a video of a live tapeworm living inside someone's colon in the latest posting. This is so cool. Not for the patient, though, obviously.
posted by Solomon at 3:22 AM on September 27, 2011


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