About a hundred years ago, public health took a visual turn. In an era of devastating epidemic and endemic infectious disease, health professionals began to organize coordinated campaigns that sought to mobilize public action through eye-catching wall posters, illustrated pamphlets, motion pictures, and glass slide projections. An Iconography of Contagion
posted by Fuzzy Monster
on Feb 28, 2010 -
: “I wanted to call my father and tell him that a white man thought my brain was beautiful”.
Sherman Alexie doing his thing in The New Yorker, excerpted from his upcoming book (early review
; interview 1
posted by Non Prosequitur
on Oct 5, 2009 -
Polio: A Virus’ Struggle
is a Graphic Novella by James Weldon.
When we eradicate a disease, do we ever think about how it may effect the disease?
Learn all about the history of Poliomyelitis, as he tells his story to the group.
posted by vertigo25
on Apr 12, 2009 -
What if we could rid the world of AIDS? The notion might sound like fantasy: HIV infection has no cure and no vaccine, after all. Yet there is a way to completely wipe it out - at least in theory. What's more, it would take only existing medical technology to do the job. [more inside]
posted by andoatnp
on Feb 21, 2009 -
Addiction: thousands of studies have been done claiming that it is a disease
, often using rats in isolated cages with a bar-press system of delivery, showing they will repeatedly get high even if it means starving to death. Bruce Alexander was a skeptic, questioning the ecological validity of all such results: "They were said to prove that these kinds of dope are irresistible, and that’s it, that’s the end of the addiction story right there," and after delivering one particularly fruitless seminar in 1976, he decided to build Rat Park
to conduct his own studies... [more inside]
posted by tybeet
on Feb 12, 2009 -
Imagine if you were the only person on earth; if no one else could understand you except yourself. No matter how hard you tried, you could never make contact with the outside world, not for long at least. This is the life of a Schizophrenic
, in a simulation created to understand what a typical trip to the pharmacy is for a patient suffering from Schizophrenia [previously
], you will experience for a few minutes what life is all about for people afflicted with this disease. (via) [more inside]
posted by hadjiboy
on Sep 11, 2008 -
While many ailments are considered terrifying, Lesch-Nyhan
is the stuff of nightmares. An extremely rare genetic neurological disorder with no cure, it often compels its victims to self-mutilate, even when they understand that doing so causes them harm. Richard Preston
used Lesch-Nyhan as a plot device in his best-selling thriller The Cobra Event
, and went on to write a fascinating article about the disease, its sufferers, and its implications for human behavior in the New Yorker. [PDF]
. [more inside]
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul
on Jun 5, 2008 -
. I’ve come to bear witness to American folly, to rest my eyes on the flying machines that flattened the forests of Southeast Asia, poisoned its people, and changed my life.
A personal essay about the long-reaching effects of Agent Orange. [more inside]
posted by amyms
on Apr 5, 2008 -
In this week’s medical research update, being mildly overweight
might not be so bad for you. According to one
summary, “overweight people have a lower death rate because they are much less likely to die from a grab bag of diseases that includes Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, infections and lung disease. And that lower risk is not counteracted by increased risks of dying from any other disease, including cancer, diabetes or heart disease.” And so what is meant by “overweight” needs to be reconsidered
. But last week’s bulletin, discussed here
, suggested that longer life spans are associated with lower weights, and the primary recommendation
was to “Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight.” Allright: Epidemiological studies are hard to interpret and some people question the science
. Newspapers are oriented to breaking news and treat medical reports as such, relying on he said/she said quotes from experts instead of providing integrative analysis. So who exactly is going to put together the pieces? What about NIH
, your tax dollar at work? Or some blogs?
posted by cogneuro
on Nov 7, 2007 -
Have You Eaten Your Dirt Today, Honey? A New Approach To The Hygiene Hypothesis. The hypothesis argues: The reason why there is so much asthma, eczema, allergies and maybe even childhood diabetes in the modern world is because we — well infants really — live in too clean a universe. What our baby immune systems need is a kickstart by exposure to viruses, bacteria, worms, pollutants and so on. If you don’t get an infant hit from these icons of uncleanliness, the immune system goes haywire and your body over-reacts to all sorts of invasive things that normally could be ignored. Via. [more inside]
posted by amyms
on Nov 6, 2007 -
Body fat causes cancer
according to a scary report from the American Institute for Cancer Research
and the World Cancer Research Fund
that reviewed 7000 studies. Obesity creates "a low-grade chronic inflammatory state" that promotes cancer. This report seems more foreboding than others of its ilk, e.g.: "Even small amounts of excess body fat, especially if carried at the waist, increase risk." Drinking is also carcinogenic: better limit yourself to 2 drinks a day if you're male and 1 if you're female. (Of course, breathing
is also bad, and so is sunlight
. ) Conclusion: you can live a really long time if you don't like to eat or drink, though you want to avoid taking this to extremes
posted by cogneuro
on Oct 31, 2007 -
Devil facial tumor disease
has ravaged the population of Tasmanian Devils in the last decade. DFTD is a transmissible cancer
, i.e. the tumor cells themselves (which differ genetically from their host animal) are the agent responsible. The disease is spread by biting and other contact, and the resulting grotesque tumors interfere with feeding and lead to starvation. Poor immune response
may be partially responsible. This is actually not the only such disease: canine transmissible venereal tumor is an analogue
that has been known to be contagious since the 19th century. (CTVT, however, gets a proper immune response.) [more inside]
posted by parudox
on Oct 29, 2007 -
The 2005 outbreak of Corrupted Blood
in World of Warcraft
may provide epidemiologists
with a new platform for studying the spread of disease.
By using these games as an untapped experimental framework, we may be able to gain deeper insight into the incredible complexity of infectious disease epidemiology in social groups.
It comes as no surprise that the "stupid factor"
plays a role in susceptibility to viral marketing, but it may also be a factor
in the spread of real life germs.
posted by solipsophistocracy
on Aug 21, 2007 -
Diseases of the Skin
by Gary M. White & Neil H. Cox. All you ever wanted to know about how bad your skin could be - full of images. Possibly NSFW, as some groin photos are included.
posted by youngergirl44
on Jan 3, 2007 -
Your Disease Risk
is an interesting new website that quantifies your risk of contracting various diseases. From a Wall Street Journal story on the site: "The site goes beyond the standard questions about age, cholesterol and family history and explores the variety of lifestyle choices, environmental issues and other factors that can influence health risk. The questions are based on risk factors that have been established through credible scientific studies."
posted by bove
on Oct 31, 2006 -
Doctor Larry Brilliant (mentioned before)
spoke at TED this year, calling himself the "luckiest man in the world." He played witness to the last case of Smallpox, and played a significant role in making it the last case. Inspiring/terrifying video here,
long, with some graphic
images of smallpox.
Back in 1974, Brilliant's technique for early detection in India was to take graphic photos door to door, asking if anyone inside looks like this
. Now, as head of Google's philanthropic efforts, he's advocating systems for "early detection, early response." Unsurprisingly, Google, etc, are an important piece of that system: can we detect what's happening before it can spread?
One of the first responses to Brilliant is up already, a means for doctors to immediately text epidemiological information straight into a global spatial database.
It's a rough and promising start, and its fascinating that it's coming from the bottom up, instead of NGOs like the Red Cross.
posted by cloudscratcher
on Aug 30, 2006 -
Robert Jordan has amyloidosis,
a rare blood disorder that is remarkably fatal. The link has all the info you need, including: "[amyloidosis is] a rare blood disease which affects only 8 people out of a million each year, and those 8 per million are divided among 22 distinct forms of amyloidosis" and "Untreated, it would eventually make my heart unable to function any longer and I would have a median life expectancy of one year from diagnosis."
posted by taumeson
on Mar 27, 2006 -
According to estimates, about 1.5 billion people--about a quarter of the earth's population--are hosts to the Ascaris lumbricoides
parasitic worm. Ascaris worms can grow to be 18 inches in length, and use their host's windpipe and esophagus to migrate between the small intestine and the lungs. A single human host may support dozen of large worms, which can be contracted by contact with fecal matter, animals, or undercooked pork. Under some circumstances (the worms dislike anesthesia, for example) one or more worms may exit from the mouth (a horrifying image
), or the anus (one of the most disgusting images I have ever seen
, and not safe for work, obviously). Here, the removal of a worm is caught on video
Too disgusting to post? Almost. But 1.5 billion people have got these in their bodies right now. That's what's grosser than gross.
posted by washburn
on Mar 4, 2006 -