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The Body Scientific

Drugs to treat Ebola infections

As I write this column, an Ebola patient from Liberia has died in a Dallas hospital and at least 70 people who had contact with him are at high risk of infection. A nurse who was involved in his treatment was infected and is being treated with the serum of a former patient that contains antibodies against the virus. Let’s hope. These events, and similar lapses in Africa and Europe, revealed weaknesses in the public health system, but now the system seems to be adapting, at least in Dallas. Hard work has succeeded in ending previous epidemics of Ebola in Africa and it will here as well.

Treatment and prevention of Ebola virus infections

Part 2

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There is a world of difference between treating an evacuated Ebola-stricken patient in Atlanta and defeating a spreading epidemic in West Africa.

The Ebola epidemic in Africa is abetted by poverty, a medical staff that has been cruelly affected by the disease and resistance to public health measures. 

What can we relearn from the Ebola epidemic?

On July 6, 1885, a mother and child appeared at Louis Pasteur’s laboratory. Everyone in France knew that he was working on a rabies vaccine, having previously been successful with anthrax and chicken cholera vaccines. Joseph Meister, then 11, had been badly bitten by a rabid dog. Two physicians, (Pasteur was not a medical doctor) agreed that death by rabies was almost inevitable. Their dilemma was that Pasteur’s treatment had protected rabbits and dogs from rabies, but had never been tried on a human being.

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Can genetically modified chestnuts fight the blight?

More than a century ago, the Appalachian forests from Georgia to Maine contained billions of giant American chestnuts (Castanea dentate). Their nuts supported forest animals and people harvested them by the wagonload to make into flour, beer or to roast. American chestnut wood was abundant, beautiful and did not rot. These trees are now almost all gone.

Can genetically modified chestnut trees fight the blight?

The fifth in a series

More than a century ago, the Appalachian forests from Georgia to Maine contained billions of giant American chestnuts (Castanea dentate). Their nuts supported forest animals and people harvested them by the wagonload to make into flour, beer or to roast. American chestnut wood was abundant, beautiful and did not rot. These trees are now almost all gone.

Thinking: genetically modified crops

The fourth in a series

Crops fall victim to viruses, bacteria, insects, fungi and exotic organisms like the potato blight that wreaked havoc in 19th century Ireland. Our large chestnut trees are gone from fungal infections and our elms hang on in isolation or heavily sprayed reserves. A virus has wiped out the papaya crop in Hawaii. A fungus threatens the coffee crop of small farmers in Central America. How can society deal with these disasters?

GMOs and the Irish potato failure

In 1845, blight attacked the potato crop of Ireland. A million people died of starvation and another million or more with enough money to emigrate left for the United States and other countries. The blight knew no borders and never disappeared. It did not cause the famine — the failure of British authorities to divert other food to feed starving farmers caused it. As readers of Jonathan Swift’s “Modest Proposal” may recall, it was not the first time.

GMOs and the Irish potato failure

In 1845, blight attacked the potato crop of Ireland. A million people died of starvation and another million or more with enough money to emigrate left for the United States and other countries. The blight knew no borders and never disappeared. It did not cause the famine — the failure of British authorities to divert other food to feed starving farmers caused it. As readers of Jonathan Swift’s “Modest Proposal” may recall, it was not the first time.

Does genetically modified corn cause cancer?

Part 2 of 2

Does genetically modified corn cause cancer?

Part 2 of 2