"If the history of public health has until now been embodied by the map—as in British physician John Snow’s famous map, which allowed him to curb the London cholera outbreak of 1854 and to found, in doing so, the modern field of epidemiology—Snitkin was embarking on a new kind of epidemiology: one founded on the phylogenetic tree." Writing for Wired, Carl Zimmer describes how Evan Snitkin and Julie Segre used genome sequencing to halt a bacterial outbreak at the National Institute of Health's Clinical Center. (via The Feature)
Tuberculosis, which kills around 1,000 people a day in India, has acquired a deadlier edge. Forty years ago, the world thought it had conquered TB. [more inside]
IBM researchers working on nanoparticles to destroy drug-resistant bacteria Hot on the heels of a report on the horrific threat of antibiotics-resistant bacteria, this article highlights one possible solution- using polymers that would attack bacteria membranes, instead of drugs. [more inside]
Welcome to a world where the drugs don't work - it's here, today. 'A new wave of "super superbugs" with a mutation called NDM 1, which first emerged in India, has now turned up all over the world, from Britain to New Zealand.''After Alexander Fleming's 1928 discovery of the first antibiotic, penicillin, we quickly came to assume we had the chemicals to beat bacteria. Sure, bugs evolve to develop resistance. But for decades scientists have managed to develop new medicines to stay at least one step ahead of an ever-mutating enemy. Now, though, we may be running out of road.' [more inside]
The secret, social lives of bacteria. "Bonnie Bassler discovered that bacteria 'talk' to each other, using a chemical language that lets them coordinate defense and mount attacks. The find has stunning implications for medicine, industry -- and our understanding of ourselves." [Via]
Our Decrepit Food Factories. Michael Pollan on what sustainability is really about. [Via Gristmill.]
With a newly indurated PPD in my arm, I went looking for tuberculosis resources. According to the WHO over 2 million people a year die of tuberculosis. About a third of the 40 mil. people infected with HIV worldwide are also infected with TB. Successful treatment takes 6-9 months of powerful antibiotics, but that's assuming the bacteria in your body aren't drug resistant. Epidemics of drug resistant TB are raging in some parts of Central America and in the Russian prison system. Paul Farmer is the man for treating it, and quite a good man in general. On the plus side, possibly having TB puts me in good company: Orwell, Kafka, Chekhov, Chopin, and the 70s favorite mummy, King Tut all had it. Every one of the Brontes did too, and they were all geniuses. Of course they all died of it. On a more sober note, if I do have to get treatment, but I refuse, I might be ordered to take medications by a judge.