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The Body Scientific

Infection and its control: Looking at history through Norfolk’s archives

Part I

A series of columns that describe the slow victory over infectious disease and how we could put it in jeopardy

PCBs in the Housatonic River

In March 2011 (www.tricornernews.com/content/pcbs-housatonic), I wrote about the chemical nature of polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, and why they are still polluting the Housatonic. I intended to revisit the issue sooner, but was distracted by Ebola virus, GMO crops and vaccine controversies. I thought that nature would have taken its course and the PCB levels in our part of the Housatonic River would go down. 

Searching for blood once again this season: tick, tick, tick

With luck, the fierce winter killed a lot of ticks, but let’s not count on annihilation. This is the time of year when the female of Ixodes scapularis, also called the black-legged or deer tick, lay eggs. In July and August, these eggs hatch into larvae, which search for passing warm-blooded animals (usually mice). 

Lessons of a measles outbreak

When conviction trumps evidence

The Ebola threat: What we learned from it

We learned that some people panic and others do not. We learned that physicians, nurses, hospitals, the CDC and the NIH make mistakes, but we have perhaps forgotten that one of their strengths is in how they correct errors. We learned that in the later phases of the illness, extraordinary numbers of virus particles are released. We learned, or relearned, that in the absence of symptoms, people do not transmit the virus. 

Elie Metchnikoff, World War I and the End of Optimism

Remembering World War I on Armistice Day

We observe the end of World War I on Nov. 11, Armistice Day. For Americans, World War II is the more remembered event, but the calamity of World War I for Europeans was not only in casualties, but the end of an era of progress and optimism in industry, in art, and in science and medicine.