Sunday, August 28, 2016

A trilogy of diseases

Time for 3 stories of unpleasant diseases I noticed this week:

*  a terribly depressing situation with tuberculosis in Papua New Guinea.  Drug resistant TB there continues to spread, and a quarter of cases are in children who, if they survive (it kills one in 10, apparently) may well have life long disabilities in a country with next to no services for them.

The Guardian reports that doctors are starting to worry about treatment resistant fungal infections.  And the resistance may be coming from a surprising source:
More than a million people die of fungal infections every year, including about 7,000 in the UK, and deaths are likely to increase as resistance continues to rise.

Researchers say the widespread use of fungicides on crops is one of the main causes of the rise in fungal resistance, which mirrors the rise of resistance to antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections in humans.
As for medicines available: there aren't many:
“There are more than 20 different classes of antibacterial agents. By contrast, there are only four classes of anti-fungal agents. Our armoury for dealing with deadly fungi is much smaller than the one we have for dealing with bacteria.

“We cannot afford to lose the few drugs we have – particularly as very little funding is being made available for research into fungi and fungal infections.”
 The article also mentions the case of an apparently fungal lung infection that killed a bagpipe player.

*  And for this final round of unpleasant thoughts:  I guess I had heard before that people can get a gonorrhoea infection in their throat or mouth, but I'm not sure I had realised that it could be carried there, without symptom, for weeks or months, and be transmitted on via that common bedroom activity that's not intercourse.   A doctor thinks, based on some early tests, that gargling with ordinary commercial mouthwash might be helpful in preventing its spread, although I don't think he thinks it will kill off entirely.

Gee, I wonder how the Listerine company might cope with that information in advertisements. 

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