We begin with sins of the past, via the Guardian:
Thalidomide: how men who blighted lives of thousands evaded justice
- Newly exposed files show how victims were betrayed by political interference in trial – and how the pill has remained on sale
What should have happened for justice to prevail was for the government to support the families while the criminal court tracked liability for an enormous crime. That was demanded by the West German Social Democratic party in opposition in 1962, but they forgot about it in government.
Instead, while the witnesses testified and endured cross-examination in noisy, angry scenes in the courthouse, the real action was elsewhere. The large number of private documents newly discovered in German state archives by the researcher for the UK Thalidomide Trust speak to government interference in the judicial proceedings.
On July 21, 1969, the documents show, Grünenthal directors and their lawyers met in secret with the federal health ministry. The principal defendant in the criminal trial had been excused attendance in court for health reasons, but he was there at this and other meetings: Grünenthal’s founder, Hermann Wirtz, a 71-year-old father of five, a member of a devout Catholic family socially prominent as philanthropists in Aachen. No victims or their representatives were present, nor were they advised of the meeting.
From Channel NewsAsia Singapore, barfing aboard:
Norovirus sickens 172 on Pacific cruise ship
More than 170 passengers and crew on a US cruise ship in the Pacific have contracted Norovirus, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Sunday (Nov 16).
The highly-contagious stomach virus infected 158 of 3,009 passengers and 14 of 1,160 crewmembers, the CDC said in an investigation report.
This is the second time Princess Cruises “Crown Princess” has had an outbreak of Norovirus this year. More than 150 passengers caught the virus during a cruise in April.
TheLocal.dk covers an outbreak of a drug-resistant menace:
Second Danish death attributed to MRSA
A second person has died in Denmark from swine MRSA, the latest report from the Danish State Serum Institute (SSI) has revealed.
According to SSI’s third quarter report, a patient was hospitalised with a hardening of the arteries and underwent several procedures before dying within 30 days of being infected with MRSA CC398, a variant that can be transmitted from livestock to humans.
“There were three new incidences [of MRSA] in the third quarter, one of which ended in death. Throughout all of 2014 there have been six cases of toxaemia in total, two of which ended in death with 30 days,” SSI spokesman Robert Skov told DR.
Two leading experts said in August that between 6,000 and 12,000 people are currently infected with MRSA CC398 in Denmark. It has also been found that at least 13 babies whose parents work in the swine industry have been infected with MRSA.
From the New York Times, a dangerous complication:
Rare Vaccine-Derived Polio Discovered in 2 Countries
Cases of paralysis caused by mutating polio vaccine have been found in South Sudan and Madagascar, the World Health Organization said Friday. New rounds of vaccination will be conducted in December in both areas. The two paralysis cases in South Sudan were in a displaced-persons camp where revaccination is relatively easy, the W.H.O. said, while testing suggests that the one case in Madagascar did not spread far. “Vaccine-derived polio paralysis” is a rare but small risk inherent in oral vaccine, so the polio eradication campaign is trying to introduce injectable vaccine wherever it is safe and practical. The injectable vaccine contains a “killed” virus that cannot mutate. But it provides less protection than the live, weakened virus in oral vaccine, is more expensive and is much harder to give. Only 279 cases of polio have been detected in the world this year, almost all of them in Pakistan or in Pakistani families in Afghanistan.
And the Los Angeles Times ponders another public health woe:
As Ebola scare dies down in U.S., infectious disease preparations wane
Hospitals seek a balance between preparation and overreaction when planning for the possibility of an outbreak of a deadly virus like Ebola, the spread of a pandemic flu or the emergence of another little-known infectious disease, according to hospital and healthcare officials.
In an era of high costs, constrained budgets and tight profit margins, many hospitals struggle to determine what resources they can spare to prepare for an epidemic that may never come.
“You have to walk that fine line between an event happening and not saying the sky is falling all the time,” said Dr. Katie Passaretti, head of infection prevention at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C. Her hospital helped isolate and test one of the first suspected Ebola cases in the country in July.
From Reuters, another outbreak:
EU Commission to adopt urgent measures to contain Dutch bird flu outbreak
The European Commission will on Monday likely adopt urgent interim protective measures to contain an outbreak of a highly contagious strain of bird flu in the Netherlands, it said on Sunday.
“The Commission is expected to adopt tomorrow, Monday 17 November, a decision with urgent interim protective measures in relation to this outbreak,” said Ricardo Cardoso, spokesman for the Commission.
The decision will describe the zones established by the Dutch authorities around the infected poultry farm where it will be forbidden to sell live poultry, eggs, poultry meat and other poultry products to other European Union member states and third countries.
Modern Farmer covers consequences of killing insects with neurotoxins:
Landmark 20-Year Study Finds Pesticides Linked to Depression In Farmers
A landmark study indicates that seven pesticides, some widely used, may be causing clinical depression in farmers. Will the government step in and start regulating these chemical tools?
Earlier this fall, researchers from the National Institute of Health finished up a landmark 20-year study, a study that hasn’t received the amount of coverage it deserves. About 84,000 farmers and spouses of farmers were interviewed since the mid-1990s to investigate the connection between pesticides and depression, a connection that had been suggested through anecdotal evidence for far longer. We called up Dr. Freya Kamel, the lead researcher on the study, to find out what the team learned and what it all means. Spoiler: nothing good.
“There had been scattered reports in the literature that pesticides were associated with depression,” says Kamel. “We wanted to do a new study because we had more detailed data than most people have access to.” That excessive amount of data includes tens of thousands of farmers, with specific information about which pesticides they were using and whether they had sought treatment for a variety of health problems, from pesticide poisoning to depression. Farmers were surveyed multiple times throughout the 20-year period, which gives the researchers an insight into their health over time that no other study has.
There’s a significant correlation between pesticide use and depression, that much is very clear, but not all pesticides. The two types that Kamel says reliably moved the needle on depression are organochlorine insecticides and fumigants, which increase the farmer’s risk of depression by a whopping 90% and 80%, respectively. The study lays out the seven specific pesticides, falling generally into one of those two categories, that demonstrated a categorically reliable correlation to increased risk of depression.
These types aren’t necessarily uncommon, either; one, called malathion, was used by 67% of the tens of thousands of farmers surveyed. Malathion is banned in Europe, for what that’s worth.
A more lethal encounter with pesticide chemicals in La Porte, Texas, from KHOU-TV in Houston:
4 workers killed in DuPont chemical leak
- Company officials said a valve somehow failed on a container of methyl mercaptan, a chemical used to make insecticide
Four DuPont workers are dead and another is in the hospital following a chemical leak at its facility here Saturday morning.
DuPont company spokesman Aaron Woods said a valve somehow failed on a container of methyl mercaptan, a chemical used to make insecticide, around 4 a.m. Officials are still investigating why the valve failed.
Workers were able to get it under control by around 6 a.m. At that point, five workers had already been exposed to the gas, four of whom died inside the unit. The fifth was transported and is recovering in an area hospital.
Complications from another Big Ag chemical addiction from PBS NewsHour:
Increased immunity in weeds may threaten U.S. crops
On Saturday, NewsHour Weekend traveled to Iowa to explore the widespread issue of herbicide-resistant and hard-to-control weeds.
Millions of acres of farmland have been affected, rendering some fields unable to be farmed.The EPA recently approved a new Dow herbicide that the industry says could help the problem. Opponents have sued claiming it could possibly harm the environment and human health.
From StarAfrica, a report of a growing number accounting for 3.4 percent of the population in a country with a total population of 174 million:
Six million Nigerians living with diabetes – official
No fewer than six million Nigerians are living with diabetes and the number could increase because of predisposing factors in the country, Mr Peter Ujomu, Executive Director, Health Matters Inc, said in a statement in Abuja on Sunday.Ujomu’s statement issued on the sidelines of activities to mark the 2014 World Diabetes Day (WDD), said, “Like every other statistics in Nigeria, there is always controversy about the number but right now, we believe about six million people are living with diabetes in this country.”
Some of the factors are the kind of foods consumed, culture, lifestyle and other things, he added.
“These are all signposts of an imminent danger in the increase of the number of people living with diabetes” Ujoma pointed out.
And an unusual tale from the Guardian:
The new strain of cannabis that could help treat psychosis
Although widely seen as a potential trigger for schizophrenia, marijuana also contains an ingredient that appears to have antipsychotic effects. Tom Ireland visits the UK’s only licensed cannabis farm and meets the man responsible for breeding a plant that might be of benefit to millions
In high doses, THC can induce temporary schizophrenia-like psychotic symptoms such as paranoia, delusions, anxiety and hallucinations. Yet cannabis also contains a cannabinoid known as CBD (or cannabidiol), which appears to have almost the exact opposite effect.
Purified CBD has been shown to have antipsychotic and anti-anxiety effects, and can lessen the psychotic symptoms normally experienced by people given high doses of THC. Research by University College London also suggests that people who smoke cannabis rich in CBD are less likely to experience “schizophrenia-like symptoms” than those who smoke cannabis containing only THC.
Unfortunately for the mental health of many young cannabis users, the chemical profile of the drug has changed drastically over the past three decades. Not only does modern cannabis contain more than twice as much THC as it did in the 1960s, it also now contains hardly any of the “neuroprotective” cannabinoid CBD.
A global-warming-enabled aquatic pest proliferation from the Daily Climate:
‘Explosion’ of gill lice besets Wisconsin’s beloved fish
- As streams warm, a gruesome parasite is gaining the upper hand against Wisconsin’s iconic brook trout – and anglers bemoan the loss
Creepy critters are leaching onto the gills of Wisconsin’s brook trout and choking off their oxygen, stoking fears in anglers that the iconic fish may be on the outs in many streams.
Biologists fear warming waters may be behind the parasites’ recent surge, further hampering a cold-water fish already beset by a host of environmental changes.
“I would say it looks like little minute rice attached to their gills,” said Len Harris, a law enforcement retiree and outdoor writer who has been fishing Wisconsin streams for about 50 years. “
Gill lice aren’t aquatic versions of head lice, the bane of any elementary school teacher. They’re tiny crustaceans that attach to trout and char gills. They make breathing difficult, impede development and can slow sexual maturation – none of which is good news for fish. Worse, warmer water appears to give gill lice a boost. For the state’s only native trout, the brook trout, evidence points to yet another climate change concern.
The Contra Costa Times covers an amphibian action:
Oakland Zoo joins mission to raise and save endangered frog
In a quest to save an endangered California mountain frog from extinction, the Oakland Zoo is seeking to build a tougher tadpole.
Zoo staffers, borrowing a strategy that worked with the California condor, are caring for 26 adult Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs and 18 tadpoles captured in Alpine lakes and streams where fungus and planted fish have devastated the frog population.
The goal: to rear tougher tadpoles with stronger immunities so they can return to their home waters.
After the jump, a fish in decline to feed a Japanese hunger, Spanish boats ram Greenpeace activists, global-warming-enabled terrestrial gas-passing, an Aussie climate change retreat, Japan ups its climate fund ante, an ancient African tribe’s lands sold out from under them for a oil sheikhdom’s private royal hunting preserve, testing for a China Syndrome event in Japan?, the high costs of global decommissioning, and those 80 million bacteria swapped in the tongue tango. . . Continue reading