Pigs, Health and Novel Viruses

It’s been two months since I posted. I guess what is known as ‘the holidays’ got in the way. Plus, I’ve been writing other material, mostly on Steemit. I seem to get involved in a research topic and don’t come up for air until I’m satisfied with the result. It’s called perseverance, and it’s a good trait because quality results. But it does preclude other engagements.

So, in the next few weeks, I’m going to share some of my most significant posts from the last two months. One of these, Radioactive Pigs, Wild Pigs, Sick Pigs: The Trouble with Pigs Today published in November, looked at pigs.

Common Warthog, Phacochoerus africanus – adult and juvenile, cousin of domestic pig

I happen to like pigs. As a matter of fact, no bacon, or pork of any kind, has been on my plate for many years. But even if you don’t like pigs, these animals warrant your attention.

As I wrote in that blog: It is estimated that there are two billion domesticated pigs in the world. They are not only a source of nutrition for billions of people. They are also a reservoir for disease. Today, with the novel corona virus spreading across the globe, this is worthy of note. Pigs are not blamed for the current disease outbreak. This one may have originated in bats (although the jury is still out on that). However, pathogens from pigs have leapt across the species barrier in the past, and we should be mindful of the risk.

One way to be mindful, is to insure the health of animals in our care. If animals are sick and harboring pathogens, those pathogens are just a small step away from us. Entry may be through the food chain or through contact.

Today, pork prices are kept low because of factory farming. This involves pumping the pigs with antibiotics to keep down a level of infection in quarters so crowded that pigs do not even have room to turn around. Pumping pigs full of antibiotics increases antibiotic resistant pathogens. These antibiotics will not work any longer for the pigs. They will also not work for humans.

Not only that, but the antibiotics pool in the large waste lagoons that balloon out from the pig habitats. The lagoons are a kind of microbial soup, in which antibiotics and microbes coexist. In that coexistence, microbes ‘learn’ to recognize antibiotics and evolve to defend against them. This evolution strengthens the microbe and weakens our ability to fight them when they invade our bodies.

There is so much more in my blog that might be of interest. How, for example, radioactive pigs manage to wander around Eastern Europe and Japan. Why many areas in the world are troubled by what seems to be an invasion of feral hogs.

It’s probably unseemly to recommend my own blog, but this one was really chock full of information. If you’ve got a few moments to spare (alright, it will take a little longer than a few moments) check out the blog.

Thanks for reading. I’m going to look at my reading feed here and see what I’ve been missing.

A very late, Happy New Year to all 🙂

Dengue Fever

Many victims of yellow fever and dengue epidemics lie in this New Orleans cemetery.

The title of this blog is not a very catchy title, but I thought I’d drop in here and share a bit of information I learned about dengue fever. This is a fever that has plagued tropical regions of the world for centuries, but thanks to human activity, its reach is expanding. There is a vaccine in the works, but not one recommended for general use by the World Health Organization. People pretty much have to depend on physical prevention.

Dengue Fever is spread by mosquitoes, so prevention means keeping mosquitoes away. The two known carriers are Aedes.aegypti (sometimes called the yellow fever mosquito) and Aedes.albopictus, commonly called the tiger mosquito. It’s the tiger mosquito that is carrying the disease into temperate zones. These are not favored by *Aedes.aegypti*. It seems that the eggs of the tiger mosquito can survive a serious winter. And the eggs themselves can carry the disease.

I wrote a rather long article on this, which describes the most dangerous aspect of dengue: the first bout may be survived by most healthy people without much complication. However a second bout, with another variety of the disease (there are four subtypes) can lead to hemorrhagic dengue. This is a potentially life-threatening condition.

So, if you’ve had dengue and think you might be immune. No. That’s not true. You will be immune only to the type that you caught. The other three subtypes are very dangerous for you. Treatment at a facility with experience in fighting this disease is important.

More information, with links to references, may be found at my Steemit blog: “Is Dengue Fever Coming to a Neighborhood Near You?

Two mosquito species, Aedes.aegypti and Aedes.albopictus, are known to transmit dengue, yellow fever and other viral diseases. It turns out, they can travel pretty far, but mostly take advantage of resources near human habitation. These resources can be any container that holds a small amount of water.

So, empty those gutters. Don’t leave old tires around (this seems to be a favorite egg-laying site), and clear out pools of standing water, no matter where you find them.


A New Short Story to Check Out

emergency2-1137137_1920

I just published another story on my blog at Steemit.  The story refers to my brother’s brush with death when he was nine years old.  He had severe heart disease. One hospital refused to treat him.  St. Francis Hospital, in Roslyn, New York accepted him as a transfer patient.  The physicians at St. Francis saved his life.

I think my story is a commentary on the fragility of life and on the importance of seeking care at a topnotch medical facility.

I was five when my brother had his crisis.  Everything was clear to me as it unfolded back then.  All of us knew, my siblings and I, that my brother might die.  Although he came out of his acute crisis that first night, he struggled for months to overcome the heart disease that had plagued him for years.

My brother’s struggle became part of my developing psyche.  I don’t think I would be the person I am today without having gone through that early trauma.  While I was just a witness to my brother’s struggle, in a family there is no such thing.  Each person is part of the event.

If you feel like checking out my story on Steemit, please do.  The story doesn’t talk about my brother so much.  It deflects the panic of the moment onto an attending physician, who goes through a life-altering crisis of his own.

Thanks for reading my blog.