2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War 1: a pivotal time for Europe and a key transition point for medical science. The Lancet marks this centenary with a three part series ‘Legacy of the war 1914-1918’. The three papers examine the impact of World War 1 on infectious disease, military psychiatry, and amputation related pain.
The Burns Archive is a collection of over 700,000 historical photographs that document disturbing subject matter: obsolete medical practices and experiments, death, disease, disasters, crime, revolutions, riots and war. Newsweek posted a select gallery this past October, as well as a video interview and walk-through with curator and collector Dr. Stanley B. Burns, a New York opthalmologist. (Via) (Content at links may be disturbing to some.) [more inside]
"During World War I, the [US] Army lost 7 million person-days and discharged more than 10,000 men because they were ailing from STDs. Once Penicillin kicked in in the mid-1940s, such infections were treatable. But as a matter of national security, the military started distributing condoms and aggressively marketing prophylactics to the troops in the early 20th century." [more inside]
Canadian War Poster Collection at McGill University. And if that doesn't strike your fancy, the list of digital collections include such time-honoured favourites as Expo '67, and the award-winner for unexpected collection, Gynaecology in Traditional Chinese Medicine. (previously)
The poppy is bitterly ironic this Remembrance Day. Borrowed from John McRae's classic In Flanders' Fields, the poppy has shifted from a symbolic meaning to the central subject of an ongoing conflict. As international intervention in Afghanistan continues, opium production has reached record-breaking heights, with this single country now producing 90% of the world's total supply (utterly dwarfing global licit supply). Meanwhile, the world suffers a global opiate shortage(pdf), Canada's heroin maintenance project is threatened by politics, and the National Review of Medicine suggests that prescription opiates are far more dangerous than the "usual suspects".
Upon the Nazi invasion of Poland, pediatrician Eugeniusz Łazowski and his friend Stanisław Matulewicz fabricated a fake typhus epidemic to save Polish Jews from the Nazis. Knowing that typhus-infected Jews would be summarily executed, non-Jews were injected with the harmless Proteus OX19, which would generate false positives for typhus. [more inside]
U.S. military practices genetic discrimination in denying benefits. "Those medically discharged with genetic diseases are left without disability or retirement benefits. Some are fighting back."
Sgt. Wells's New Skull. In the epidemic of brain injuries coming out of the war, Army neurosurgeons had never seen someone survive such a devastating wound. But Brian Wells jokes that he just left part of his head in Iraq. Someday, he says, he'll have to go back and get it.
"By early 2005, nearly one-third of the wounded soldiers admitted to the National Naval Medical Center had been colonized by the bacteria."
Rumors were circulating at the hospital that insurgents dosed their homemade bombs with the flesh of dead animals. ---multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter, and how we brought it to Iraq ourselves. "My colleagues and I have been looking for Acinetobacter baumannii in soil samples for years, and we haven't found it," she says. "These organisms are quite rare outside of hospitals." In other news, conditions in Iraqi hospitals are so bad due to lack of even the most basic supplies they're calling it a breach of the Geneva Conventions.
Stitching Together Lives Torn Apart. In a war with no fixed front, military hospitals in Iraq are closer than ever to the places where American troops are felled — most often by roadside bombs, but also by rockets, mortars and gunshots. Many of the most seriously wounded would have died in previous wars. In Vietnam, soldiers often bled to death before reaching a hospital. Because the wounded in Iraq are evacuated so quickly, 96% of those who make it alive to the Balad and Baghdad hospitals are saved. On the battlefield, medics are better-prepared. The lowliest grunt is given specialized lifesaver training. New blood-clotting agents and improved field bandages have helped save lives. The amputation rate in Iraq is double that of previous wars. Many soldiers face the rest of their lives without arms or legs, or with severe brain damage. The LATimes special reporting: The Lifeline (graphic photo), part one of three.
Are you a Gulf War veteran still suffering from mysterious symptoms or post-combat trauma? The Veteran's Administration has just the prescription for you: "Obecalp," otherwise known as placebo. (p.s. -- They'd better start working on an Extra-Strength version for Iraq War vets.)
The Painful Truth. "The Iraq war is a new kind of hell, with more survivors - but more maimed, shattered limbs - than ever. A revolution in battlefield medicine is helping them conquer the pain."