News and Views

This week, another bacterial contamination of food is making headlines. Last week, it was eggs and Salmonella. This week, it's romaine lettuce and E. coli.

Because E. coli infections can be very serious, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is expanding its warning regarding romaine lettuce. The new recommendation is to throw it out. All of it. This includes whole heads and hearts of romaine, chopped romaine, and salads and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce. If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine, do not eat it and throw it away.

How does E.coli cause illness? 

There are many, many different strains of E. coli and not all of them are harmful. In fact, many are living in our intestines right...

A statement was just put out by the Bush family spokesperson, Jim McGrath, indicating former President George H.W. Bush was hospitalized yesterday "after contracting an infection that spread to his blood." It further maintains the treatment is working and he is recovering. Having recently attended the funeral of his wife, First Lady Barbara Bush, the news is particularly upsetting. 

 

    

You may recall that they were simultaneously admitted to the hospital for respiratory conditions last year. That type of scenario is not uncommon as infections like...

Sometimes, a study serves to uncover something completely unknown before. However, many times, it confirms something that we already suspected to be true. In the case of a recent report, the news out of the United Kingdom that homeopathy is more frequently recommended by bad physicians is something that we could have easily predicted. 

The UK’s National Health Service has been pretty vocal about cutting down on the use of alternative medicines, with a particular focus on homeopathy. Although it has been recommended that physicians stop prescribing homeopathic remedies, the use of homeopathy has not stopped as of yet. (It has declined, however.) 

But, who is prescribing homeopathy? A research group led by Ben Goldacre sought to understand if there is a difference between...

The regulatory concerns about genetic modification of animals that I wrote about a while ago have moved towards a Congressional spotlight. Pigs have been genetically modified to resist porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus by deleting a gene. Does deleting a gene make them genetically modified - yes and no, depending on which regulatory agency you ask. 

The virus

The viral disease is carried by pigs and results in an acute phase with increased fetal and peri-natal deaths as well as a more chronic respiratory phase in the piglet survivors and their moms. As with our own experience with viral infections, they are difficult to eradicate. It is highly...

Alex Azar, our Health and Human Services Secretary, was readmitted to the hospital two days after being discharged with diverticulitis. It shows that in some way medicine is very democratic and that a VIP faces the risk of readmission just like everyone else. 

Diverticulitis is an infection of diverticula, small abnormal outpouchings of the large intestine. Material gets trapped in the pockets and an infection results, one that most frequently responds to intravenous antibiotics and then is followed by five to seven days of oral antibiotics after discharge. The concern with diverticulitis is that the infection may cause these outpouchings to rupture and spread infection within the abdominal cavity itself. That complication requires more invasive care to drain the abscess and...

More than likely, you are well acquainted with Strep throat testing. You know - when the super dry tongue depressor presses your tongue down so that the Q tip can reach the back of your throat - so far in the back that you gag a little. 

The Q tip is picking up the bacteria that are in the back of your throat. When cultured, it will either reveal the presence of Streptococus pyogenes, the main cause of strep throat, or not. Sometimes, in about 5% of cases, the cause of the sore throat is another type of Streptococccus (C or G.) 

But, a case in Minnesota recently had all of the symptoms of strep throat, without the strep. What was the cause? In this case, the throat swab sent for further testing revealed the bacterium Fusobacterium...

On any given day, about 1 in 20,000 to 1 in 10,000 eggs are contaminated with the bacteria Salmonella. However, for Rose Acre Farms, the second-largest egg producer in the United States, this is not your average day.

In fact, the company just voluntarily recalled over 2 million eggs because of potential contamination with Salmonella Braenderup bacteria. 

Salmonella infection symptoms (fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain) can surface as soon as eight hours to a few days after eating the contaminated food. The infection can range from mild to life-threatening in more vulnerable populations. 

The recall comes after a multistate outbreak, with 23 people reporting illness in 9 states. There have been six hospitalizations and...

For patients awaiting an organ donor the odds are not in their favor. 120,000 patients with need, about 10,300 donors with a gift this last year. But for these patients, a gift at a new life is coming from an unintended source, Americans dying of drug overdoses. An article in the Annals of Internal Medicine detail findings from the transplant registry [1]; in brief, the rise in donated organs from patients dying from drug overdoses has grown in parallel with our opioid crisis. 

Living donors can donate a kidney or part of their liver or lung but represent only 20% of transplantations; the rest are from donors who have died from trauma or a medical cause. Traumatic deaths are primarily from the young without significant medical problems and are “ideal” donors. The demographics of...

Jim McGrath, the post-White House spokesman for former President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush, just tweeted that an apparently ill Mrs. Bush, after a series of recent hospitalizations, has made the decision not to seek further medical treatment. Instead, she is shifting her focus onto "comfort care."

The official statement reads as follows: 

  

It appears from the information released that there is a chronic nature to her recent poor health. Beyond that, not much has been publicly disclosed. You may recall when she...

Being a night owl could literally kill you; that's according to the latest study from nearly half a million participants in the U.K. Experts say night owls are living in a world structured for early risers, or larks, and are at a higher risk for obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and early death.