Posts Tagged Maine

Forget Flesh Eating Bacteria, Avoid Flesh Eating People. Use Zombie-B-Gone!

I'm hannibal lector

I’m hannibal lector (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Report: Miami cop shoots, kills naked man eating victims face –

In a scene out of every zombie movie, a policeman shot a man who was eating another man’s face.

A whole bunch of questions arise about this scenario, which was captured on the Miami Herald‘s security cameras.  After watching the video, I realized all the action took place in the far left corner, and all you see is a police car drive up and some movement under the bridge.  Even at the end when the camera pans in closer you get a PG view of the man’s legs.

Oh, did I forget to mention the  man was naked?  All the news media have focused on that.  He was naked.  Very important detail.  I’m much more interested in why he was lunching on his buddy’s face.  I don’t care if he was wearing a bowler hat and tuxedo.  It’s the cannibalism, not the nudity, that should be reportable here.

But, given he was naked and had decided to play out a scene from Living Dead or any other zombie movie, let’s make a few assumptions about this particular individual.

One, he was probably not an escaped Hannibal Lector.  Usually that would have led to a nationwide warning.  He was someone who decided that his buddy’s face looked yummy, without a prior history of that behavior.  (How did Hannibal make it through kindergarten?)

Two, he took off his clothes in Miami.  It’s pretty hot, but chances are he was really hot.  What drug do we know combines serious hallucinations with internal heat that causes even people in Maine to shed their clothing?  That’s right,  bath salts.

So I’m making a prediction that this fellow was flying high on bath salts.  Which makes me kind of leery about being in the Miami area this weekend.  If the particular mix this guy took sent him this far off the edge, chances are more is floating around.  (There are many, many different variations on bath salts.  None of them are at all smart or “cheap.”  Going insane is NOT a cheap high.)

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What Is Your Real Age? Dr. Oz Wants You To Change It.

English: Hair scissor for thinning hair Deutsc...

English: Hair scissor for thinning hair Deutsch: Modellierschere (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I took the Real Age test.  It’s available from Dr. Oz’s site.

If you want to know your real age, figure out what year you were born, and figure out what year it is.  Subtract the year you were born from this year, and you have a rough estimate of your real age.

If you want a medical gimmick for your real age, feel free to give a computer program your contact information, your birthdate, and an enormous amount of personal medical information highly tailored to your previous answers.  I knew I was in trouble when the computer asked me who had diagnosed my thinning hair and I checked self rather than saying a licensed professional had diagnosed it.

The problem with any sort of computer simulation is that it only asks questions about known or reasonable risk factors.  There should have been a great deal more on family history.  If you want to know how long you’ve got, look at when all your grandparents died.  Factor in whether they smoked like chimneys or drank like a waterfall, and you have a good idea of how long you’ll live.  Knowing that I’m officially RealAge 37.7 (I like the .7) isn’t much help if all my family kicked off in their early forties.

I had an irrational urge to cheat on the Real Age questions.  What if I claimed to be a svelte female me?  Would I live longer?  What if I claimed I smoked like a chimney?  Would that age me overnight?  What difference did it make that I checked thinning hair rather than the tempting “no illnesses.”  Why did they even ask about thinning hair?  Is it really an aging factor?  Did it age me because of the “thick haired men look younger” gene?

I think they should add a section to the Real Age answer sheet where they explain what the “right” answers would have been.  How are you supposed to improve your real age if you don’t have a clear picture of what you’re missing?  Oh, that’s right.  I’ll get pieces of my “right” answers in the mail, tailored to keeping me hooked on an endless supply of pamphlets and overpriced supplements.  Even as we speak, a pamphlet for thinning hair is winging its way through the internet ether to land with a solid thud at my email door.  Now that I’ve given my health information away, all I can expect is an endless parade of people who want to fix the boxes I checked.

So what’s my real age?  It’s not 37.7.  First I take the current year, then I deduct the year I was born…

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Do-It-Yourself Gastric Bypass: For The Desperate Dieter.

Diagram of a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass.

Image via Wikipedia

Warning: The following is meant to be humorous.Fat?  No health insurance?  Then Roca Labs has a cure for you!  The do-it-yourself gastric bypass!

Don’t worry, you don’t have to open up your own belly.  Sewing that back together can be tricky, especially if you can’t see over the top.

Instead, you get to drink something that halves your stomach size!  That’s right, we’ve got something so caustic your belly will basically shrivel up.  Side effects?  Well, we’re bypassing studies because it’s a diet supplement.

As you can imagine, I was pretty interested in what they were going to put in a drink to make the stomach shrivel up.  It wasn’t nitric acid (you’d need to put that in capsules) or cayenne (that would just burn, period.  If you wanted that it’s called the Malaysian diet.)  It turns out to be relatively boring, really.

What Roca Labs is selling is basically non-digestable gum that fills your stomach and makes you less hungry.  This will work as long as you keep filling your stomach and don’t force more food in.  If you did, your stomach would expand.  Then you’d eat MORE food without being hungry as soon as you stopped the gum.

So, the only really shocking thing about this diet is the price.  $480 for some gum.  Yikes!

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Valley Fever: Like, So Totally Serious, Dude.

Geographic distribution of Coccidioidomycosis....

Image via Wikipedia

Ike Davis may or may not have Valley Fever.  But for those of us not part of Valley culture, Valley Fever sounds like something one would get from drinking someone else’s wine cooler.  Maybe Ike borrowed someone else’s unwashed leg warmers for aerobics.  (Are those back yet?  When will retro cool encompass leg warmers?  About the same time the giant airplane-wing size collars come back.)

Being a medical type, I was interested in this Valley Fever.  Was this some new disease striking yuppies, making them retro before their time?  Symptoms include the unnecessary use of the word like, addiction to pastels, and a slight fever – dance fever, that is.

Turns out that Valley Fever is a real disease.  The NIH website first lists it as “Valey Fever” in a rare typo.  I had a momentary image of Valet Fever, an infection caught from exclusively luxury model car keys.  Not to be mistaken for Ballet Fever, the urge to leap up and applaud mediocre ballet performances.

So the REAL name of Valley Fever is coccidioidomycosis.  If you went, oh, of course, you definitely spent time in medical school.  Or taking NPLEX exams for fun (sicko!).  Actually, I kind of liked taking practice NPLEX exams.  It’s Trivial Pursuit for the really intense hypochondriac within all of us.

Coccidiodomycosis is a fungal infection.  If you want to hear the way it is pronounced, Webster’s now has a wonderful audio feature.  Hearing it pronounced makes it sound like something so truly filthy that you could get slapped unless the people you are talking to are intense hypochondriacs.  It sounds like something Barney from How I Met Your Mother would be into.  It might be what J. Lo whispered in Barney’s ear before he had to tell her no and then went and jumped into the river.

But regardless of how it sounds, having it is no fun.  Ike made it sound like no big deal, but having a fungal infection in your lungs at his age is a serious no-no.  That’s the kind of thing you get after you get transplants of other organs and your body is shutting down.

So, either the NY specialists are making an error, or Ike doesn’t want to believe them.  It’s true that a huge number of people have antibodies to the fungus, but very few of them get the disease.  The fungus can go system wide and affect any body organ.  Time to really think about prevention if he did have this pneumonia.  If he developed symptoms, it is likely his body isn’t working at full capacity.

Semin Respir Crit Care Med. 2011 Dec;32(6):754-63. Epub  2011 Dec 13.

Pulmonary coccidioidomycosis.


Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of California-Davis, Davis, California 95616, USA.


Coccidioidomycosis refers to the spectrum of disease caused by the dimorphic fungi Coccidioides immitis and Coccidioides posadasii. Clinical manifestations vary depending upon both the extent of infection and the immune status of the host. Coccidioidomycosis has been reported to involve almost all organ systems; however, pulmonary disease is the most common clinical manifestation. The incidence of coccidioidomycosis continues to rise, and primary coccidioidal pneumonia accounts for 17 to 29% of all cases of community-acquired pneumonia in endemic regions. The majority of patients with coccidioidomycosis resolve their initial infection without sequelae; however, several patients develop complications of disease ranging in severity from complicated pulmonary coccidioidomycosis to widely disseminated disease with immediately life-threatening manifestations. This review focuses on complications of pulmonary coccidioidomycosis with an emphasis on the management of primary coccidioidal infection, solitary pulmonary nodules, pleural effusions, cavitary disease, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), miliary disease, and sepsis.

© Thieme Medical Publishers.

PMID: 22167403
Pol Arch Med Wewn. 2008 Jun;118(6):387-90.

Coccidioidomycosis in a 38-year-old man: a case report.


Department of Pulmonary Diseases, Medical University, Poznań, Poland.


The present article describes a case of acute pulmonary coccidioidomycosis in a 38-year-old man, a research worker. The disease started during the patient stay in Arizona, USA, and clinical symptoms persisted after his return to Poland. Acute coccidioidomycosis is one the clinical manifestations of Coccidioides immitis strain endemic infections occurring in the south-western regions of USA including California (mainly San Joaquin Valley), Western Texas, New Mexico and the desert areas of Arizona, and Central and South America. The native environment of Coccidioides immitis is soil penetrated by rodents. People, domestic and wild animals suffer from coccidioidomycosis. The infection rate in endemic areas is about 2-4% a year in the healthy population. Coccidioidomycosis can be observed in non-endemic areas due to population mobility and in immunocompromised patients. The Coccidioides immitis infection is caused by inhaled airborne fungal spores and it may occur as primary pulmonary (acute or chronic) asymptomatic form, meningitis, or disseminated disease. The clinical symptoms of coccidioidomycotis like acute pulmonary manifestations may resemble typical, resistant to empiric antibiotic treatment of bacterial pneumonia. In healthy subjects, pulmonary coccidioidomycosis may occur as asymptomatic infection, which resolves spontaneously without medication. Sometimes, slight shadows like local fibrosis and cavities may be visible on the chest X-ray. The Coccidioides immitis infection in people with immunological deficiency syndromes, e.g. HIV/AIDS, manifests itself as disseminated disease and may lead to severe complications including death.



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Kombucha Tea, Cure All Or Flatulence Factory?

English: Mature Kombucha

Image via Wikipedia

Whenever we talk about probiotics these days, no one has anything to say but positives.  Medical doctors may not think there’s anything to fermented products, but as long as they are prepared in sterile conditions, they don’t really care.

Let’s be clear.  Probiotics are good for many people.  They are also an explosive and painful addition to other people’s diets.

For context, let’s look at what happens if you and I suddenly go to Mexico.  Better yet, let’s have some misguided Mexicans come to Maine for snowmobiling.  They go to a local place and have the lobstah bisque.  Now, this is a homey hole-in-the-wall, practically a smelt shack, so they don’t have sterile conditions.  Instead, they get a good dosing of Mainah bacteria.

Nothing wrong with Mainah bacteria for Mainers.  But our Mexican friends find it doesn’t agree with them.  They spend the next day visiting the port-a-potty rather than snowmobiling.  When they get home, they tell their friends they had a bad bout of Mainah’s Revenge, which is just like Montezuma’s Revenge, only worse.  Meanwhile two Mainers coming back from Mexico might complain about how that food just “didn’t agree with them.”

If you suddenly change over the bacteria in your gut, you’re in trouble.  We like to think of ourselves as one person, but we’re really a giant hotel.  The bacteria in your gut outnumber your very cells by something like ten to one.  It’s the bacteria, not you, who determine what you feel like in your belly on a given day.

So if you go dumping in a whole truckload of new immigrant bacteria, they need to find a place to stay.  Sometimes they settle in quietly, but sometimes they find trouble and you get diarrhea.  Other times they find a whole bunch of undigested food that nobody was using, and go nuts.  When they do that, they ferment.  When they ferment enough, you get lift off!

Now, Kombucha tea contains one of my favorite probiotics, Sacchromyces boulardii.  This happy little bug is a relative of the beer yeast and was created for the AIDS population to oppose candida infections.  Overwhelmingly, it does good things for people and beats the pants off all the Lacto and Bifida probiotic clones out there.  BUT…Kombucha also has a variety of other species and those ferment some people like crazy.  I start people on the straight S. boulardii BEFORE they start on Kombucha.  Otherwise I get angry phone calls as people hover near the ceiling all night.

So, before you indulge, take a moment to think about what you’re trying to do.  I remember feeling fine and feeling like I “should” try probiotics.  In the health food nut community we don’t take silly little capsules.  We take sachets of probiotics.  That’s right, basically whole bottles at a go.  My sachet didn’t agree with me.  So I asked one of my professors who unwisely said:  “you just didn’t take enough.”  That was the weekend of the six sachets.  I was NOT a happy camper.  So don’t mess with it if it isn’t broken.

If, on the other hand, you have current bleeding and ulcerations in your gut, it’s worth looking at something like S. boulardii with your doctor.  Right now, you’ve got secondary strep and staph overgrowth from all that free blood (which is a free lunch for them) so pretty much anything is an improvement.  But talk it over, don’t just start in with the six bottle of Kombucha weekend bender.  Unless you like hovering near the ceiling.  Wasn’t that a scene in Mary Poppins?


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Bath Salts Add Flesh Eating to Their Side Effects

English: Computed tomography images of necroti...

Image via Wikipedia

In a turn for the downright macabre, a female bath salts use was partially eaten after her indulgence in injecting bath salts generated necrotizing fasciitis (that’s bacteria eating you alive).

Above is true, below is humor.

Trying to exploit the trend, drug manufacturers are advertising the “piranha soak,” where patients indulge in bath salts while being eaten by actual piranha.  “Man, such a high!” said one recently created amputee.  “It’s like all that adrenaline from being eaten just mixes with the whole crazy paranoia and gibbering that the salts gives me.  It even beats the high I got getting hit by that semi a month ago.”

Medical personnel were vaguely supportive of the new trend.  “Currently it takes eight people to restrain a bath assaulter.  Two for each limb.  Fewer limbs means fewer personnel required per assaulter.”  Other assaulters had this to say:  “the devil man, the devil is in my head!”

Why anyone would want to inject or use this synthetic mix of amphetamines is beyond me.

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The Tyranny of Averages: Imaginary Naturopathic Doctors Who Make More Than I Do.

Presque Isle River

Image by chief_huddleston via Flickr

I was looking about at Maine Naturopathic Doctors, a topic of personal interest.  According to a website that gives averages of salaries for every job, everywhere, Naturopathic doctors in Presque Isle make an average of 56k a year, with options to earn more far more.

Very disturbing, because I know for a fact that we have no N.D.s currently in Presque Isle.  My current location, Augusta, isn’t even listed on the averages charts, so evidently the four of us who practice locally don’t exist.

But in this case I have a very real sounding number, based on absolutely nothing at all.  How much of our current debates about finances and public policy are based on averages that fail to even come close to touching reality anywhere?

Now, I’m thinking about moving to Presque Isle if I can get this averages website to give me some guarantees about my possible salary.

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