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Test That Could Tell Physicians When To Give Antibiotics

From the pages of CSI: Miami… a commonly used forensic chemical called luminol to identify traces of blood at crime scenes has been modified to be used in a novel medical test that can help differentiate a viral infection from a bacterial infection.

Why is this important?

Not uncommonly, it is sometimes hard to differentiate between a bacterial infection which is treated with antibiotics from a viral infection which is NOT treated with antibiotics. Unfortunately, in the healthcare system, too often, antibiotics are given if an infection is present whether viral or bacterial which is leading to multi-drug resistant infections like MRSA.

Well with this test, Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Fauquier ENT Blog*

Influenza: It’s Not “Just The Flu”

One of our readers suggested that I review the book The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History, by John M. Barry. It’s not a new book (it was published in 2004) but it is very pertinent to several of the issues that we have been discussing on this blog, especially in regards to the current anti-vaccine movement. It’s well worth reading for its historical insights, for its illumination of the scientific method, and for its accurate reporting of what science has learned about influenza.

In the great flu epidemic of 1918, influenza killed as many people in 24 weeks as AIDS has killed in 24 years. It’s hard to even imagine what that must have been like, but this book helps us imagine it. It tells horror stories: Children found alone and starving beside the corpses of their parents in homes where all the adults had died, decomposing bodies piling up because there was no one left who was healthy enough to bury them.

Sometimes the disease developed with stunning rapidity: During one three-mile streetcar trip, the conductor, three passengers, and the driver died. In another incident, apparently healthy soldiers were being transferred to a new post by train: During the trip, men started coughing, bleeding, and collapsing; and by the time it arrived at its destination, 25 percent of the soldiers were so sick they had to be taken directly from train to hospital. Two-thirds of them were eventually hospitalized in all, and 10 percent of them died. The mind boggles. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

How To Prevent An Infection From Your Pet

Can your dog give you MRSA? Sharing with your dog is wonderful — unless you’re sharing bacteria. Pets can harbor harmful germs to pass on to you.

Staphylococcus bacteria is a common cause for skin infections in people and animals. A virulent strain of staph, called MRSA, has made headlines for school outbreaks and fatal infections. MRSA infections are usually blamed on dirty locker rooms and contaminated gym clothes, but the source for an infection might be in your lap right now.

Here are five ways to avoid catching an infection from your pet:

1. Your pet’s mouth is not clean. It’s teeming with bacteria. Don’t let your pet lick your wounds. A dialysis patient once contracted a life-threatening pasturella bacteria infection from his beautiful golden retriever this way.

2. Keep open wounds covered. Contact between your wound and your pet could spread bacteria such as MRSA. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Dermatology Blog*

Jock Itch: How To Get Rid Of It

I’ve been seeing a lot of jocks lately. The anatomical area, not the athletes. Summertime means heat and humidity, sports, and itchy groins. Jock itch is a general term for an itchy rash in the groin. Heat, sweat, and skin rubbing on skin can leave the area looking like you slid into second base, groin first.

There are three main causes of an itchy groin. Classic jock itch is caused by a fungus, the same fungus that causes athlete’s foot. This fungus often causes a red scaly rash on the inner thighs. It tends to be dry and can have bumps or pimples. The fungus is often spread from your feet or from contaminated sports equipment, towels, etc. It can be treated with topical terbinafine cream 1% twice a day for 2-4 weeks. Severe cases can require oral anti-fungal medications, especially if the fungus has spread to other areas on your body. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Dermatology Blog*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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