Book Review: Seven Modern Plagues and How We Are Causing Them

Infectious Disease is interesting. In fact, I would wager that it forms at least part of the backbone leading to most medical students deciding to study medicine, regardless of whether or not they end up enjoying ID.

Seven Modern Plagues by Mark Jerome Walters investigates seven diseases causing havoc today. He looks at the circumstances that first brought them to us… and then illustrates how humanity has, in some way or another, influenced their massive growth. For example, the earliest known HIV case was in 1959, so how and why did it reach such large proportions in the 80s… and why do we still see new forms emerging?

This book is one of my favourite kinds of medical writing: it reads easily, but not so easily that it bores me. It has a good combination of things I already know and new information. The writing style is formal: not so academic as to be distant, not so colloquial as to lack respect for its subject matter. Continue reading “Book Review: Seven Modern Plagues and How We Are Causing Them”

Review: The Big Necessity by Rose George

One of the first things I noticed when I started traveling was international differences in public restrooms. In New York City I was met with the conundrum of a city that has everything except restrooms. In China I saw squat toilets for the first time – and refused to use them. Working in a hospital with filthy restrooms has given me a strong bladder. Then, when we hit our first official port for Semester at Sea (Japan) I saw the smartest loos alive.

What a pleasure, then, to read The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters while traveling. (The cover caught my eye – isn’t it wonderful?) Rose George literally goes everywhere with this book. She plunges into the depths of sewer systems in New York and London. She exposes the dirt and grit of the water we consume. And then she travels to the corners of the earth to see how other countries compare. Continue reading “Review: The Big Necessity by Rose George”

Things I Want: Infectious Plushies

Friday is my final final exam for fourth year. Exams have gone really well so far this year, but after this weekend’s news I guess my focus has been a little off.*

Since I’m studying all sorts of horrid diseases, I figured I’d share something I want to get. Well, I certainly don’t want any of the real live ones, but aren’t these GIANTmicrobe plushies adorable?

Continue reading “Things I Want: Infectious Plushies”

The Girl with the Smile

She is here for a nerve conduction test and an assessment of her Thalidomide regimen.

Thalidomide: The morning sickness wonder-drug-turned-teratogenic-horror that gave birth to deformed and ill babies.

It has some wonderful other uses. Crohn’s Disease and Myelodisplasia run from this drug. And mycobacteria hate the drug too. But special permission is required to use such a potent drug.

She had an IRIs-reaction to starting TB medication a year ago and suddenly had TB-abscesses in her midbrain. Her cerebellar function declined and she neared death.

Continue reading “The Girl with the Smile”

The Original Guinea Pigs

We are currently doing our Infectious Diseases and Clinical Immunology theory block – which means lots of freaky latin names and difficulty staying awake in class.

Occasionally though, our class is graced by a lecturer with some spunk.

This is South Africa: needless to say, Tuberculosis was one of the first things discussed.

You know how we refer to test subjects as guinea pigs? Pretty good reason for that.

Continue reading “The Original Guinea Pigs”