Tag Archives: Infectious Diseases

Palo Seco: A leper colony in Panama

Enrique Chaves-Carballo Overland Park, Kansas   Fig 1. Indian 50 paisa stamp shows Armauer Hansen at work in his laboratory. Via Wikimedia. Copyright Post of India, licensed under the Government Open Data License. The history of leprosy goes back to antiquity and is replete with unscientific prejudices, including the belief that the disease was highly […]

Koch’s postulates revisited

JMS Pearce Hull, England   Van Leeuwenhoek (1632–1722), a Dutch botanist, using his early microscope observed single-celled bacteria, which he reported to the Royal Society as animalcules. The science of bacteriology owes its origin to two scientists of coruscating originality, Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch. Pasteur may be described as master-architect and Koch as master-builder […]

Leprosy and armadillos: Handle with care

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   A nine-banded armadillo in the Green Swamp, central Florida. Photo by Tomfriedel (BirdPhotos.com), June 27, 2008, on Wikimedia. CC BY 3.0. Leprosy (Hansen’s disease) is a chronic, disfiguring, and handicapping infectious disease. It was known in the ancient world, and evidence of the disease has been found from 2000 B.C.1 […]

Rapid testing for the masses

Anthony Papagiannis Thessaloniki, Greece   A summer camp of flowers. Photo by author. Ten young girls are queueing outside the makeshift surgery. They are between eleven and fifteen, they wear face masks, they giggle and tease each other and try to encourage the timid ones before the coming ordeal. What is this going to be? […]

Gain of function

Jayant Radhakrishnan Darien, Illinois, United States   “It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge.” – Enrico Fermi (1901–1954)   SARS-CoV-2 virus anatomy with proteins labeled. Created by Maya Peters Kostman for the Innovative Genomics Institute. CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. “Gain of Function” (GoF) burst into […]

Dr. Oriol Mitjà: seeking to understand old and new infectious diseases

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   “Research needs to give answers to real problems.” – Dr. Oriol Mitjà   Oriol Mitjà. Photo by Oriol.mitja, 2016, on Wikimedia. CC BY-SA 4.0. Dr. Oriol Mitjà (b. 1980) earned his M.D. degree from the University of Barcelona. He then completed an internal medicine residency, followed by a fellowship in […]

Dr. Gerhard Domagk and prontosil: Dyeing beats dying

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” – Albert Einstein   Erysipelas infection in face due to streptococcal bacteria. Photo by CDC/Dr. Thomas F. Sellers, Emory University, 1963. CDC Public Health Image Library. Public domain. Dr. Gerhard Domagk (1895–1964) was a German pathologist […]

Robert Koch, M.D., and the cure for sleeping sickness: ethics versus economics

Howard Fischer  Uppsala, Sweden   Ugandans with their identity tags. 1907. In the activity report of the commission sent to East Africa to study sleeping sickness during the year 1906/1907 by R. Koch, M. Beck, and F. Kleine, p. 320. La Société francophone de médecine tropicale et santé internationale. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Primum non nocere. […]

Scotland’s Anthrax Island

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Cutaneous anthrax lesion on the neck, May 25, 1953. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health Image Library. Via Wikimedia. Public domain. “They make a desolation and call it peace.” — Agha Shahid Ali (1949–2001)   During World War Two, the British government purchased from its owners the Gruinard […]

AIDS: Thru a glass darkly

S.E.S. Medina Benbrook, Texas, United States   AIDS Cases by Exposure Category and Year of Report 1985-1996, United States. CDC/NCHSTP/DHAP/Jean G. Smith. Courtesy of Public Health Image Library. Via Public Domain Files. Public domain. I sat in the deep, cool shade of a stout, leafy Texas cedar escaping the torrid summer heat, idle thoughts meandering. […]