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Tuesday, November 22, 2005 

Grand rounds 2.09

This week's grand rounds is up at codeblog. Of particular interest to me is Orac's post, a response to Dean Esmay's post here. Some of you may remember the story of the death of Eliza Jane, whose mother, Christine Maggiore, is a prominent AIDS-denyer. The coroner had listed the cause of Eliza's death as AIDS-related pneumonia; of course, those in the AIDS-denial community scoffed. They had their own "expert" analyze the coroner's report, and they eventually came out with a different cause of death, detailed at Esmay's blog. Orac points out that their alternative version just doesn't add up:

1. A previously completely healthy girl developed PVB19 infection leading to both encephalitis and aplastic anemia (possible, but highly unlikely, and, even if PVB19 were found, it would be far more likely that it was able to cause anemia because of immunosuppression due to AIDS).

2. This same girl also developed an acute allergic reaction to amoxicillin that led to cardiovascular collapse and--oh, by the way--also caused steatosis of the liver within a day after starting the drug, the steatosis being something even Dr. Al-Bayati's own references do not seem to support as being likely.

3. This same otherwise healthy girl had sufficient quantity of P. carinii in her lungs to show up on Gomori methenamine silver staining at her autopsy.

4. The medical examiner and neuropathologist either botched the staining for the p24 protein (or that it was a false positive) and an experienced neuropathologist didn't know the pitfalls of the diagnosis of HIV encephalitis using brain tissue sections.

Other grand rounds posts that caught my eye include this one reminding us that heart attacks are the leading cause of death in women (with a link to the story of a near-fatal heart attack in a 37-year-old woman); posts at Parallel Universes on a connection between antibiotic use and non-Hodgkins lymphoma (and an update), and a rant on Science Creative Quarterly about people who wear their lab coats and scrubs out in public (I don't get that one, either!). Lots of good reading this week.

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About me

  • I'm Tara C. Smith
  • From Iowa, United States
  • I'm a mom and a scientist, your basic stressed-out, wanna-have-it-all-and-do-it-all Gen Xer. Recently transplanted from Ohio to Iowa, I've spent most of my life in the midwest (with 4 years of college spent out east in "soda" territory). My main interest, and the subject of my research, is infectious disease: how does the microbe cause illness? What makes one strain nasty, and another "avirulent?" Are the latter really not causing any disease, or could some of those be possible for the development of chronic disease years down the road? Additionally, I've spent a lot of time discussing the value of teaching evolution, and educating others about "intelligent design" and other forms of creationism. My interest in history of science and medicine is also useful as a way to tie all of the above interests together. [Disclaimer: the views here are solely my own, and do not represent my employer, my spouse, that guy who's always sitting by the fountain when I come into work, or anyone else with whom I may be remotely affiliated.]
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