Archive for Disease
www.telegraph.co.uk 5th July 2011
The Natural History Museum, London, has postponed its biggest research expedition in 5o years following claims by human rights groups that it could put the lives of indigenous Paraguayan people at risk. The expedition intended to explore a vast dry forest called ‘Gran Chaco’ in the country, which holds the same biodiversity as the Amazon and has yet to be studied properly. However, concern was raised that the 40 scientists, along with their backup teams, may stumble across remote indigenous tribes that live in voluntary isolation. If this were to occur, the spreading of diseases may prove fatal to local people, just as they did 500 years ago when the Spanish and the English first alighted in the New World. The safety of the scientists was also questioned as some tribes, for example the Ayoreo, carry bows and arrows. The trip is now in a consultation period as the Paraguayan government discusses the venture with the Ayoreo tribe. The Natural History Museum has said that they would not go until “all parties were happy”. The Ayoreo are particularly important as the expedition hoped to work with them to learn local knowledge of the Gran Chaco’s environment. The forest, believed to home around 150 uncontacted people (down from 5,000 in 1950), is under severe threat from soy farming.
www.nationalgeographic.com 27th October 2010
A National Geographic documentary entitled The Truth Behind Zombies, to premier this Saturday coming, is to show scientists discussing the possibility of a ‘zombie’ disease. The Rabies virus does have the ability to drive people violently mad, according to Samita Andreansky, a virologist at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine in Florida. If this was to combine with the Flu virus, with its renowned ability to spread quickly, then scenarios from the films 28 Days Later and The Crazies are at least partly possible. However, there are some clear differences. For example, the dead would not be brought back to life as the virus can only survive in a living host. Secondly, rabies symptoms, such as anxiety, hallucinations, paralysis, and confusion, take anywhere between 10 days to a year to manifest. Then, once the virus sets in, victims usually die within a week if left untreated. Through genetic mutation though, the incubation period could be dramatically reduced. Rabies is also not very contagious. Humans usually catch it off rabid animals but it isn’t known to be transmitted from person to person. It is also rare. In 2008, only 2 cases were reported in the USA. Although it is technically possible to artificially create a hybrid zombie virus, it is very difficult, according to Elankumaran Subbiah, a virologist at Virginia Tech.