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Discussion: Tropical Diseases come north

in: Orienteering; News

Jan 5, 2016 2:12 PM # 
The NYTimes this morning has an interesting article about the arrival in the US of yet other tropical diseases. The article also summarizes those already here:

...The list of scary bug-borne illnesses seems to get longer every year: Lyme, West Nile, Chagas, dengue, chikungunya — and now Zika, the first case of which turned up in Puerto Rico last week....

Zika is the disease that causes newly-borns to have a head and brain much smaller than normal, and has been rampant in Brazil and other parts of South America and the Caribbean.

Since we spend so much time exposed to mosquitoes and ticks in pursuit of our sport, it is reasonable that each orienteer should have knowledge of the symptoms of each of these new diseases.

For instance, in 1982, when I saw a dermatologist for a strange red rash, she initially gave me a skin cream and sent me away. Upon further reading, I went back to her and asked if the rash was possibly Lyme Disease. The light bulb went on, and she prescribed the appropriate course of antibiotics. But unless I had done my own research, I would have never been diagnosed or treated. Good luck.
Jan 5, 2016 2:26 PM # 
So that's how you spell Chicken Goonia. (I get most of my information from the radio, which is also why I generally have no idea what political candidates look like.)
Jan 6, 2016 1:43 AM # 
@JJ: That darn radio can be so deceptive. The first time I heard about Mark O'Rubio, for example.
Jan 6, 2016 1:45 AM # 
Long before Mr. O'Rubio there was the famous Irish Pittsburgh Steeler running back, Frank O'Harris.
Jan 6, 2016 4:28 AM # 
Jan 6, 2016 4:30 AM # 
head and brain much smaller than normal

Jan 6, 2016 4:39 AM # 
You Americans need to control your immigration problem.
Jan 6, 2016 6:01 AM # 
It is not a problem. It is a solution in the new 'Murica

mosquitoes and ticks around here also give you HIV, herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea, etc.
Jan 6, 2016 11:50 AM # 
Mike and Charlie: Like that great Irish navigator, Mark O'Polo.
After he got back from the east he taught the secrets of land navigation to his two Irish pub mates, O'Ree and T Ring.
They went on to make it in to a sport.
Or so claimed the late Colin Kirk.
Jan 6, 2016 4:35 PM # 
Good one Gordhun! Colin had it right!
Jan 6, 2016 5:04 PM # 
I miss Colin.
Jan 6, 2016 10:03 PM # 
Does that include "fear of curtailed liberty"-mongers?
Jan 7, 2016 9:25 AM # 
Who is this J. Jake O'Tay fella?
Jan 7, 2016 1:02 PM # 
@ graeme, I think it is this guy

@chitownclark - apologies for having so much fun hijacking your serious thread!
Jan 7, 2016 1:41 PM # 
I guess if he named his kid after a famous Cuban, he'd be Che Chakotay. I've never encountered that particular misspelling. Though I have had things addressed to me as Gene Kotay.
Jan 7, 2016 5:53 PM # 

No problem...I'm as amused by the discussion as the rest of a/p. J.Jake O'Tay?

The humor is just more evidence that O is a tough sport...and orienteers are used to taking risks, every time they show up for an event. They aren't like most Americans:

....most American homes have screens and air-conditioning, so their inhabitants get only a few bites a year...
Jan 7, 2016 9:34 PM # 
"most Americans don't want to go out and experience things - they want to sit at home and be fed things on TV". - Swampfox in an interview on CNN.

(I might have a word or two wrong - I don't have a VCR handy to replay the tape)
Jan 7, 2016 11:18 PM # 
Misheard names of sports - we were sitting in a pub in a Glengarriff and overheard two locals talking about the sporting event in town that weekend (the Shamrock O-ringen) referring to it as "Roaring and Tearing".
Jan 8, 2016 2:46 AM # 
While en route to a race in Harriman in the 90's several of the Cdn team stopped at a restaurant in upstate NY. "Y'all on an ice hockey team?" The waitress asked. "No, orienteering team", we replied. "Oh cool, well good luck in the water", she responded. "Water?", we asked. "Yeah, what else are the oar's for" she questioned.

Once at Harriman we went to the Bear Mtn lodge where apparently one could by O maps. "Do you have maps for orienteering?" We asked. "Sorry honey we don't have orange ear rings" the cashier responded.

Later that same trip we went went for dinner in Central Valley where the special was "chicken Gordon Blue". I recall Christophe Robert asking for an order of Gord's blue chicken. ;-) God Bless America.
Jan 8, 2016 10:23 AM # 
A friend who lived in Denver for a few years could not order a Coke at Wendy's as they always wanted to serve a Cake! He gave up trying and had to get a local to order for him. (That Aussie accent!)
Jan 8, 2016 12:26 PM # 
Was it too hard to point to what he wanted?
Jan 8, 2016 12:39 PM # 
How did he tell the local what he wanted?
Jan 16, 2016 1:28 AM # 
Update, back on topic: A couple of days ago US health officials announced that pregnant, or soon-to-be-pregnant women should cancel winter vacations in Latin America and the Caribbean:

...Pregnant women should avoid traveling to countries that have outbreaks of a tropical illness linked to birth defects. The illness is caused by the Zika virus which is spread through mosquito bites. It causes only a mild illness in most people. But it's been spreading around the world, and there's mounting evidence linking it to a terrible birth defect....

Unlike Lyme, there is no indication that you have contracted the disease; symptoms are mild or non-existant...until a baby is born.

....only about 1 in 5 people who are infected with the Zika virus develop any symptoms....[and] the threat seems to be moving closer. Infections are occurring in Mexico; the kind of mosquitoes that can carry the virus are found along the southern United States. Experts think it's likely the pests may end up spreading the virus here...

In Brazil, health officials are not only advising women not to travel...but also not even to get pregnant, until this epidemic is brought under control.
Jan 16, 2016 5:17 AM # 
Proof that children are evil.
Jan 17, 2016 10:17 PM # 
Tse-tse flies were spotted today in Patapsco Valley
Jan 18, 2016 1:43 AM # 
I'm not 100% sure but I think Mexico is further from where I am than Brazil so the article is misleading.
Jan 18, 2016 2:53 AM # 
Although that's true (Brazil is nearly 3000 km closer, in fact), I don't think there's a big danger of insect-borne diseases heading your way directly over the south pole.
Jan 18, 2016 3:01 AM # 
1400km according to my research and it depends which carrier they travel with.
Jan 22, 2016 7:36 PM # 
The NYTimes reported yesterday that the rapidly-spreading Zika virus has now been implicated in the recent epidemic of the Guillain-Barré syndrome that can infect, paralyze and kill both men and women of all ages:

...the virus may also be causing a surge in the potentially life-threatening Guillain-Barré syndrome, in which a person’s immune system attacks part of the nervous system, leaving some patients unable to move and dependent on life support...

“It felt like I was drowning in a sea of mud,” said Geraldo da Silva, 43 who was hospitalized for 10 days in an intensive care unit after doctors discovered he had Guillain-Barré. “I became motionless and thought I would die. All of this happened just a few days after I had Zika.”

The disease is spreading rapidly in Haiti; and Jamaican health authorities have published warnings, urging women to postpone pregnancies for as long as a year. There is some suspicion that Zika was initially brought to the Americas by visiting athletes.
Jan 28, 2016 10:10 AM # 
matzah ball:
Anybody read '1463'? Very interesting book about globalization in the 15th/16th century...including the huge effects of the introduction of diseases and disease-carrying insects on human development. For instance, slavery...Labor was scarce in the 'new world' and Africans were more resistant to malaria, another disease carried by mosquitoes, having developed immunities, than Europeans or native Americans.
Jan 28, 2016 2:56 PM # 
Jan 28, 2016 5:03 PM # 
Apparently there are two books by the same author:

1491 about the state of The Americas before Columbus....

1493 - Uncovering the New World Columbus created.

Both books look very readable, but a bit sketchy on facts.
Jan 28, 2016 5:19 PM # 
I had an African friend who had had malaria, and thought it no big deal, more like a recurring annoyance than a serious or dangerous illness. Perhaps he had some natural immunity that made it less severe for him. I know that my company considered malaria extremely life threatening, requiring highly urgent response. We're all a bit different. The subject of immunities (or lack thereof), and the spread of disease through travel, fascinating but tragic. Hopefully more will be learned about Zika, microcephaly and Guillain-Barre, and then lead to more treatment and prevention options.
Jan 28, 2016 8:55 PM # 
Malaria is big killer in Africa. According to the WHO, 91% of the 438,000 malaria deaths last year were in sub-Saharan Africa.

However, I remember our science book back in Grade 7, or perhaps earlier, having a blurb about sickle cell anemia, which can be deadly. As I recall, it was caused by inheriting a particular genetic mutation (which is common in Africa) from both parents, while someone inheriting the mutation from only one parent acquired immunity from malaria.

I see there has been a recent update in understanding the mutation:
Sickle-cell mystery solved: Researchers discover how carriers of the sickle-cell anaemia gene are protected from malaria

[some excerpts]

It has been a medical mystery for 67 years, ever since the British geneticist Anthony Allison established that carriers of one mutated copy of the gene that causes sickle-cell anaemia are protected from malaria. The finding wasn’t trivial: in equatorial Africa, where Allison did his work, up to 40% of people are carriers of this mutated gene. Since then, scientific sleuths have wondered how exactly the gene protects them.

Michael Lanzer and his colleagues at Heidelberg University in Germany and the Biomedical Research Center Pietro Annigoni in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, used powerful electron microscopy techniques to compare healthy red blood cells both with 'normal' cells infected with the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum and with infected cells from people carrying the mutated “S” gene that causes sickle-cell disease, as well as another mutation, dubbed “C,” which occurs at the same spot. Both mutations lead to the substitution of a single amino acid in the hemoglobin molecule, causing the haemoglobin to aggregate abnormally inside the cell. In people with two copies of the S mutation, they deform into a half-moon shape — the 'sickle cells' that give the disease its name.

The researchers saw that in healthy red cells, very short pieces of actin filament — threads of protein crucial to maintaining the pliable internal 'skeleton' that lets the red blood cell squeeze through tiny blood vessels — are clustered just under the cell's outer membrane. But in infected cells, they observed that the malaria parasite steals this actin and uses it to construct an intracellular bridge to transport a parasite-made protein to the cell surface. This protein, called adhesin, makes the infected red blood cells 'sticky', causing them to adhere to each other and to the vessel wall to cause the widespread microvascular inflammation characteristic of malaria.

The parasite doesn't get everything its own way, however. Enter the sickle-cell factor. In red blood cells containing the aberrant sickle-cell haemoglobin, Lanzer and his team observed that the hijacking of actin filaments by the parasite was hobbled. The actin bridge was cut off from the intracellular depot of adhesin, and the vesicles that would normally transport the adhesin to the cell surface were floating free in the cytoplasm.

Further experiments led the team to hypothesize that ferryl haemoglobin, produced when the mutant haemoglobin reacts with oxygen, subverts the parasites’ efforts to reorganize their host cells' actin by preventing the actin proteins polymerizing to form long filaments.

The take-home message, says Lanzer, “is that the parasite, in order to survive within the red blood cell, has to remodel the host actin — and that evolutionary pressure has resulted in mutations in human haemoglobin that prevent this remodelling.” People who carry just one mutated copy of the sickle-cell gene still make enough normal haemoglobin and so are largely asymptomatic. So being a carrier confers a survival advantage in countries where malaria is endemic.
Feb 2, 2016 4:45 AM # 
Depopulation: Zika Virus Funded By Bill Gates

First, we've got population. Now, the world today has 6.8 billion people. That's headed up to about nine billion. Now, if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower that by, perhaps, 10 or 15 percent but there we see an increase of about 1.3
Bill Gates
Feb 4, 2016 5:14 PM # 
Not just tropical diseases but jaguars coming north. The BBC reports (with video) of a jaguar in the mountains of southern Arizona, observed over the last few years.
Feb 4, 2016 5:57 PM # 
Hopefully overzealous / inept researchers don't manage to kill this one like they did Macho B a few years ago.*

* it is still an open debate whether the trauma of researchers twice capturing Macho B led to his eventual euthanization by AZ state wildlife officials.
Feb 4, 2016 9:49 PM # 
It looked like they are using camera traps to film it. Hopefully that's a bit gentler than handling.

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