The multitude of factors that influence what illness or disease strike are sometimes quite surprising

As noted in prior posts, the key issue in toxic torts is causation. Yet, how an illness, disease, or adverse impact occurs is sometimes quite surprising. Only to illustrate the principle, I note two recent reports that demonstrate the unexpected. Researchers have long puzzled over why flu becomes...

Diet impacts gut bacteria, which in turn influences rates of asthma, allergies, inflammatory bowl disease, and other inflammatory diseases

When children become sick, when rates of disease increase in adults, both apparently without an obvious cause, there is an unfortunate tendency for some to seek to profit at the expense of the suffering by offering up phony theories and bizarre hypotheses to "explain" these impacts. Witness...

Does infectious disease have an adverse impact on human intelligence? A new study posits that it does.

Prior posts have noted the importance of providing clean water and sanitation services to the human population in order to lessen the impact of disease on human health and well-being. Now researchers are exploring how disease may impact human intelligence. Human intelligence is a fuzzy concept. Of...

Decline of Western Aspen trees swells population of rodents that carry the deadly sin nombre virus

As noted in prior posts, Aspen trees in the West have been dying. There appears to be no single cause. However, drought in the 1990's and early 2000's probably made the trees more susceptible to cankers, fungi, and other maladies. The result is that some sites have lost as much as 2/3 or more...

Antibiotics and vaccines can act as selection factors for bacteria

As noted in prior posts, almost anything has the potential to act as an evolutionary selection factor. [Yes, Virginia, there really is evolution.] A recent assessment that traces the history of a virulent strain of pneumonia-causing bacteria demonstrates that both antibiotics and vaccines can act as...

Humans can transmit diseases to gorillas

Prior posts have noted and described a number of human diseases that had their origin in animals. Now it appears that some diseases can be transmitted from humans to gorillas. Ecotourism has been seen as a boon for countries with "interesting" biota; it provides funding for protection of...

Can antibiotics interfere with the body's ability to fight viruses? Perhaps so.

Prior posts have noted that abuse and misuse of antibiotics in people and animals has lead to an increase in antibiotic resistant organisms, to the detriment of human health. Prior posts have also noted the importance of bacteria to human health and welfare (and that there are 10 bacteria in the human...

Parkinson's may be caused by the same bacterium that causes ulcers, new animal model studies suggest

The cause of Parkinson's Disease is unknown. To date, many experts have suggested that it may have a genetic origin; see http://www.webmd.com/parkinsons-disease/parkinsons-causes . Other experts point to toxins that may selectively destroy the dopaminergic neurons, thereby causing Parkinson's...

Another reason to control erosion and nutrient runoff -- Cholera

Numerous prior posts have followed the growing understanding of what factors drive the Gulf of Mexico dead zone. It pretty much comes down to nutrient runoff into the Mississippi River and its tributaries (e.g., sewage, feedlots, agricultural fertilizers). Now, another association of such nutrient additions...

Armadillos may transmit leprosy

It has been long suspected, and more or less recently confirmed, that animals (particularly those that were domesticated thousands of years ago) are the source of many major human diseases, including diseases that ironically are no longer found in animals. See, for example, http://www.nature.com/nature...

Eating yogurt without more does not produce lasting changes in the mix of bacteria in the GI tract

Prior posts have noted the impact of GI bacteria on human health, from their potential to prevent a variety of diseases to perhaps being the cause of other afflictions. In what has been referred to as an elegant study, researchers undertook human and animal studies to ascertain what effect, if any...

DNA Predicts Only a Few Disorders

Prior posts have noted that gene functioning can be modified by a number of processes, such as methylation. Recently animal tests have found that some of these modifications are passed on to off-spring even though no change is made to the gene itself, only to its expression. Prior posts have also noted...

An alternative strategy for addressing colony collapse disorder amongst honey bees

Prior posts have noted the many and varied theories regarding the cause of colony collapse disorder amongst honey bees. (See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colony_collapse_disorder .) This problems poses a risk to a huge number of agricultural products. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_crop_plants_pollinated_by_bees...

Are animal models a good analogy for humans? A recently published study of mice suggests that there may be problems

To set standards, animal models are frequently used. Such use allows researchers to investigate disease and injury states in ways which would be considered unethical to inflict on humans. For example, to determine some threshold injury or disease state, various groups of animals may be exposed to widely...

Decimation of frog populations may result from fungus disease spread initially by the international amphibian trade

Prior posts have noted the decline in the frog population in California, among other locales worldwide. As with colony collapse disorder of honeybees, there have been numerous theses regarding the cause. Researchers now propose that the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatis ("Bd") is the cause...