Tag Archives: Disease of the week

Hepatitis C Virus – The celebrity hepatitis

Edit: A version of this article was published in The Advertiser on September 13, 2011.

July 28th was World Hepatitis day; the day to raise awareness of hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Both are very important diseases: together they cause >1 million annual cases of liver cancer, one of the most deadly cancers. Hepatitis viruses (A, B, … G) are completely different viruses. The thing that they have in common is that they all infect the liver.

You may have heard of Hepatitis C recently, as an anaesthetist was charged with infecting 54 women with Hepatitis C in a Melbourne hospital a few months ago.

Biohazard cookies! (Cookies by James Kleinig and Gen Sinclair; photo by Thomas Tu)

The cause of Hepatitis C, the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), was discovered very recently in 1989. But since then, we’ve recognised that 3% of the world’s population have been infected with HCV. Famous patients include Baywatch actress Pamela Anderson, the infamous Mark Brandon “Chopper” Read, and stuntman Evel Kinevel.

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Soylent brown – “Shit burgers”

Update: According to a good work-up, there’s a very high probability this video is a hoax that just recently went viral. I blame the stout for my lack of reasonable doubt. Indeed even Yahoo news and Fox news have fallen for it. Anyway, I’ll leave this post here because the idea of lab-grown meat  made from waste products is an interesting idea that has scientific merit. (Cheers to Bobster’s house)

Sorry again for the lack of activity on the blog. I am going pretty well on my thesis, thanks for asking.

Anyway, I was drinking with a couple of friends of mine who are doing their PhDs in environmental health and bioremediation the other night. Long story short, I wake up with this on my hand:

At least it wasn't a dick and balls. Picture taken by Thomas Tu

After some greasy food and coffee, I summoned enough courage to look up “shit burgers” on Google. Then it came back to me, we had been talking about a nutty bit of science where a Japanese team had created faux meat from sewage. While I’m not sure that it isn’t a hoax, here’s a video:

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How Forensic Investigators Track Schizophrenia

Another guest post by Allison Gamble to tide you guys over. Sorry about the inactivity.

The science of forensics, specifically forensic psychology, is a tool of the legal system. A forensic psychologist works to assess, identify and clarify psychological issues, without prejudice, in order to satisfy the court’s legal understanding of those issues. Forensic psychologists are often called upon to give psychological insight into cases like that of Arizona shooter Jared Lee Loughner, whose behaviors preceding the attempted assassination of U.S. Representative Gabriele Giffordsmirrored those of a schizophrenic. Thus, the primary function of forensic psychology is to tie or untie the knot that binds mental illness to crime.

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Leprosy – How the leper got its spots

Oh crap, I forgot about World Leprosy day (celebrated on January 31st or the closest Sunday). Quick! Read this old article on leprosy that I wrote for On Dit.

Leprosy is a disease wherein the slightest tug to a limb will tear it off like a well-cooked chicken. It is also highly contagious; such that simply touching a person with leprosy will infect you and will certainly and very shortly cause your arms and legs to fall off. *SLAP!* You useless child! *SLAP!* You know nothing about leprosy! Now before I lock you in the basement, I’ll straighten you out…


Ahhh! Is it catching? (Photo by Thomas Tu)

Leprosy is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae. (Funky fact: In 1873, M. leprae was the first human-disease-causing bacterium to be identified!) Depending on the strength of immune response incited after infection, one of two types of leprosy may be experienced: tuberculoid, which tends to produce more nerve damage; or lepromatous, which manifests itself in a more skin-oriented way. Don’t be fooled, leprosy is not an insignificant disease, leprosy infected an estimated 410 000 people worldwide in 2004, 75% of whom lived in the poorer countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Continue reading


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Halitosis – Your mouth smells like your arse

Sometimes I’m going to write about rare cancers or blood diseases and sometimes I’m going to write about bad breath. That’s just the way I roll.

Halitosis literally means “condition of the breath” and has many causes and just as many home remedies. Original therapies (and by original I mean 1550 BC) like heavily herb infused wines didn’t remove the bad breath but like mints and other modern treatments they just attempted to cover the bad smell with something more pleasant.

Halitosis can be divided into two distinct problems, transient halitosis (morning breath) and chronic halitosis. While the difference between these conditions is the time frame of affliction both have the same root cause. Sulphur.

For more head to diseaseprone.fieldofscience.com

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Jumping Frenchman of Maine Syndrome

Well I’m back! I’m not going to pretend like you missed me but I hope your glad to see another post out of me. I did a bit of writing during my time off to build up a bit of a backlog so hopefully I can keep posting regularly for a while. Anyway, without any further ado…

Jumping Frenchmen of Maine Syndrome
Best. Disease. Name. Ever.

This disease was first observed in 1878 by the neurologist Dr. George Miller Beard, a guy I will definitely talk about again, in French-Canadians, lumberjacks and presumably some French-Canadian lumberjacks living in northern Maine. So that explains the “Frenchman” and “Maine” parts but lets look at what makes this a “Jumping Syndrome”.

This is the famous jumping Frenchman Patrick de Gayardon. He has nothing to do with this story. Left Right.

This syndrome is due to an exaggerated startle reflex resulting in uncontrolled jumps commonly but can also manifest as spasms throughout the body. The startle reflex is very important and forms part of the ‘fight or flight response’ normally…

For the remainder of this piece head to diseaseprone.fieldofscience.com

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2010 in review thanks to WordPress.com

WordPress.com sent us this summary of our year at WordPress. Some interesting stats for those that are interested 🙂


The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

About 3 million people visit the Taj Mahal every year. This blog was viewed about 34,000 times in 2010. If it were the Taj Mahal, it would take about 4 days for that many people to see it.


In 2010, there were 117 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 135 posts. There were 194 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 131mb. That’s about 4 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was April 8th with 1,269 views. The most popular post that day was The Wednesday Post (7/4/10).

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were stumbleupon.com, researchblogging.org, facebook.com, reddit.com, and twitter.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for exploding head, biofilm, pneumococcus, ulcerative colitis, and disease of the week.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


The Wednesday Post (7/4/10) April 2010


Exploding Head Syndrome – No pun required June 2010
13 comments and 1 Like on WordPress.com,


P. aeruginosa, Biofilms and Honey July 2010
23 comments and 2 Likes on WordPress.com


Crohn’s Disease – Your Body Hates Your Guts February 2010
3 comments and 1 Like on WordPress.com,


The Pneumococcus: “Captain of the Men of Death” January 2010

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