Various viruses

Category archives for Various viruses

Holy influenza, batman!

Typically when we think of flying things and influenza viruses, the first images that come to mind are wild waterfowl. Waterbirds are reservoirs for an enormous diversity of influenza viruses, and are the ultimate origin of all known flu viruses. In birds, the virus replicates in the intestinal tract, and can be spread to other…

I’ve written a few times about chickenpox parties. The first link refers to a magazine article describing the practice; the second, a few years later, about a Craigslist ad looking to hold such a party “at McDonald [sic] or some place with toys to play on.” Clearly, as chickenpox cases have become more rare in…

As I’ve laid out this week (

Measles in Iowa

We’ve had pertussis and mumps, so it was only a matter of time. State health officials declared a “public health emergency” Tuesday after a test confirmed a case of measles in an unvaccinated Dallas County baby who apparently picked up the disease in India. They said people who might have been exposed included passengers on…

Ebola has long been associated with wildlife. From the early days, bats were viewed as a potential reservoir (though it wasn’t confirmed that they actually harbored the virus until 2005). Contact with wild animals–particularly primates which were butchered for food–was also long thought to be a risk factor, and now we know that primates can…

Via H5N1 and other sources, there’s at least one new Ebola case in Uganda: The rare and deadly Ebola virus has killed a 12-year-old Ugandan girl and health officials said on Saturday they expected more cases. The girl from Luwero district, 75 km (45 miles) north of the capital Kampala, died on May 6, said…

Measles in Arizona by the numbers

Maryn McKenna has an excellent post on 2008’s measles outbreak in Arizona. 14 confirmed patients, 8,321 individuals tracked down, 15,120 work hours lost at 7 Arizona hospitals due to furloughs of staff who were not appropriately vaccinated, and almost $800,000 spent by 2 hospitals just to contain the disease–and it all could have been prevented.

Margulis does it again

We all know of once-respected scientists who ended up going off the deep end, adhering to an unproven idea despite massive evidence to the contrary. Linus Pauling and his advocacy of megadoses of Vitamin C, or Peter Duesberg’s descent into HIV denial. It’s all the more disappointing when the one taking a dive is a…

“Pox” by Michael Willrich

Next to Ebola, my favorite virus would probably be smallpox (Variola virus). I mean, now that it’s eradicated in nature, what’s not to love about the mysteries it’s left us–where it came from, why it was so deadly (or, not so deadly, as in the emergence of the “mild” form, variola minor), and will a…

Twittering in the classroom

Readers may be interested in participating in this, from Dave Wessner at Davidson College: Building on a project I piloted last fall, I will explore the potential role of Twitter more intentionally this fall in a course I teach on HIV/AIDS at Davidson College. I invite you to join me in this exploration. Here are…