More microbiology news

I hinted at a bit of a viral revival just yesterday, but I wasn’t quite expecting the rest of microbiology’s greatest villians to kick in just yet. Still, they did.

Monkeypox goes Iberian:

Portuguese authorities have confirmed five cases and are investigating another 15 suspected cases. In a statement on Wednesday, Portugal’s health ministry said the cases it had detected – all in the Lisbon and Tagus Valley region – had all involved men whose symptoms included ulcerative lesions.

While in Madrid:

“Generally speaking, monkeypox is spread by respiratory transmission, but the characteristics of the eight suspected cases point towards fluid contact,” the spokesperson said.

Fernando Simón, an epidemiologist who heads Spain’s health emergencies centre, said while it was unlikely that monkeypox would spread significantly, “that can’t be ruled out”.

Salmonella in Belgian Chocolate:

Obviously not a virus, but still small and nasty, so it fits here.
This one has been going for a while now, but an updated report means that we can include it in this week’s microbiology news. Belgium chocolate is known for its quality and its creamy, luxurious taste, and now also for containing Salmonella typhimurium ST34. Delicious.

Cases, which have now started to decrease, stood at 324 (including both probable and confirmed) in the EU/EEA and the UK, as of 18 May 2022. They have been reported in twelve EU/EEA countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden), the UK, Switzerland, Canada, and USA.

Polio in Mozambique:

Awful news about the first wild poliovirus infection in Moz in over 30 years.

The case was diagnosed in a child in the northeastern province of Tete, it said. “The detection of another case of wild poliovirus in Africa is greatly concerning, even if it’s unsurprising given the recent outbreak in Malawi,” WHO Africa chief Matshidiso Moeti said.
Poliomyelitis – the medical term for polio – is an acutely infectious and contagious viral disease which attacks the spinal cord and causes irreversible paralysis in children.

The virus was tracked back to the outbreak in Malawi from a strain originally circulating in Pakistan. Local countries are now desperately trying get all their children vaccinated before there is any further spread.

Corona continues:

No handy news report to go with this one, but despite the numbers starting to drop in SA, there have been three five more confirmed cases in people I know in the last 24 hours.


I’d love to see the provincial data: it’s my feeling that a significant decline from the previously high numbers in Gauteng might be masking a steady (or even slightly increasing) case load in the Western Cape. Certainly anecdotally, we’re feeling a bit surrounded by it again. A reminder to please act sensibly and responsibly because this clearly isn’t done yet.

And obviously, a get well soon to those in question. You know who you are.

And that’s it for today this particular hour as far as microbiology news goes. Join us again tomorrow for more happy happy joy joy fun and games as thousands of people get sick thanks to various germs, disease and infection.


“Do not complain about growing old. It is a privilege denied to many.”

Yeah, I get it, Mark Twain, but wow, I’d be so much happier if my left calf muscle didn’t shred like a wet tissue at the first sign of any vaguely rapid movement.

That never used to happen when I was younger.

And yet… guess what?

So it’s back to walking and weights, avoiding any strain on the calf, because obviously, a week (which would have been fine to have fixed it a few years back) clearly wasn’t enough to fix it this time around. Nothing major, just grumpy and a bit painful. (The calf muscle, not me.) (Although…)

And I know I’m getting on a bit now because 6Music put out an ad for a series of shows they’re doing on Friday to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of OK Computer.
“Twenty-fifth”, indeed! I think you’ll find that OK Computer was actually released in 1997, and that was only… oh… oh my dear god…

A quarter of a century. Wow.

Living in Oxford at the time, and Radiohead coming from Oxford (pre-OKC, you’d regularly see Thom Yorke wandering down St Aldates, but I guess things went a bit mainstream celebrity after that), we stayed up ever so late on that Tuesday (I think?) evening and went into town for the special midnight release at the HMV on Cornmarket Street. Free poster, free sticker, a whole pound off the CD.

And it’s fair to say that, despite all the hype – even the local hype – the album was (and still is) something very special. I wonder how you deal with anything and everything you produce after something like that being measured against it and always falling short.

I’m sure the massive royalties help with the continual disappointment.

A quick review

A couple of sentences about each of the places we visited on our whistle-stop visit to Franschhoek.

Where we stayed:
La Fontaine – 10/10. Just so good. Staff willing and ready to help, friendly people, amazing room, lovely breakfast, great location. Loved it.

Where we drank wine:
Rickety Bridge – 0/10. I know that the Wine Tram is a big deal from Franschhoek. We did it ourselves a few years back. But wineries must decide if that’s all they are going to rely on for their income. We arrived and were told that we couldn’t stay because the Tram was due and they had to keep all the free tables (and there were several) for it/them. We were told to sling our ‘hoek. Very poor, very disappointing.

So we went to La Bri – 9/10. It’s also on the tram route, but the welcome couldn’t have been warmer and the views couldn’t have been better.

Their Affinity blend was superb, and their Chardonnay was pretty good too. Mrs 6000 did the Chocolate and Wine pairing and was wowed by the cranberry choccies.

Autumnal colours…

And then to Haute Cabrière – 7/10. Commercial, busy, loud, but the bubbly was still everything that you would expect of the place. Some erm… “interesting” poetry on the walls of the bathrooms from the pen of the (allegedly) playboy son of the owner. Maybe for another blog post, another time.

In the evening, the first of our two visits to The Elephant and Barrel – 9/10. The place that does the R35 Chip Cone! A quick drink before dinner. See below for the rest of the review.

Dinner: French Connection Bistro – 6/10. Food pretty good, service generally ok, although the Maitre’D was a bit grumpy with us as we met friends as we arrived and [gasp] wanted to chat! But the place was just so loud and echoey. Lacked the bistro ambience that we were hoping for. So… back to the E&B for a couple more bevvies and some live music.

Look, this place was a bit rough and ready, but staff were super efficient, everyone was very friendly, and the drinks were very reasonably priced. Add in a bit of music from Llevado and we were on to a winner, before staggering home some time after midnight.

Next morning, after a lazy breakfast, we checked out and wandered around the town, finding some more cranberry chocolates in the back room of the Chocolatier, who supplies La Bri, and took a look around a couple of galleries…

…and the small market in front of the church.

All in all, a splendid visit with a lot of wine and a lot of laughter. And some great company (which I’ve known about for 17 years now).

Would definitely recommend a weekend away here.

School run little Hitlers

I had to do some stuff in Claremont this lunchtime. (It’s a Friday, in case you are reading this far into the future, or if you are reading today, but have no understanding of basic time stuff.) I didn’t have much choice in doing this thing at this time, but it was a bad time to be doing it, because it was school kicking out time, and there are a number of schools in that vicinity which were, as was their wont, kicking out.

The school run each day makes up nearly all of the traffic in our area. There are many, many schools and therefore many, many students and most of them get driven to school. It can be chaos. I get it. I see it twice every day.

The upshot of this is that parents make their own rules to deal with the traffic a bit more easily. And yes, this works, but there are some drawbacks. For example, Kenmar Road, adjacent to a very prim and proper posh Girls’ school, becomes one way for the duration of the school runs. But… not officially. The Yummy Mummies in their big Chelsea Tractors and Phat White Porsches only go in at the bottom and out at the top. And while this undoubtedly makes the traffic in that area flow a bit more easily at these times, if you don’t know that it’s temporarily and unofficially one way (because there are no signs and your Girl is not at that posh Girls’ school) you can cause utter chaos by simply (and legally) going the “wrong way”.

This is both frustrating and a whole lot of fun. But you’d likely only do it once.

I have done it once (by accident), and I was sworn at, hooted at, and had several mummies roll their eyes back so far they could see their overpriced haircuts from the inside.

But how was I to know? And why should I abide by their self-imposed “rules”, anyway?

Today, I didn’t drive the “wrong way” down Kenmar Road. But, I did have the audacity to [gasp] pull over and [second gasp] park(!) on a road nearby. Oops.

For the record, your Honour, I had no choice in where I parked, because it was where I needed to load a lot of heavy and messy stuff into my car.

But it made one posh Girls’ school mum in a John Cooper Works Mini (nice) so incandescent with rage that she wound her window down to fling her hand out in a “what are you doing?!?” kind of way, before screaming away up the road, knocking a squirrel over (and yes, killing it – unfair contest) as she raced off to collect Persephone and Jocasta from the posh Girls’ school.

I’m a bit sad about the squirrel. Well, I was sad briefly. If the nasty lady had been paying a bit more attention instead of frothing at the mouth, she might have avoided it, but on the other hand, the squirrel was on the road and they are annoying little invasive bastards, so one fewer of them is not bad thing.

But what if it had been a children?

Long story short (really? – Ed.), I’m tired of having to fit in with these little Hitlers and their selfish made-up rules to make their lives easier at the expense of everyone else around them. They come over into our middle-class suburbs in their larney cars for a few minutes each day before heading back to the salubrious safety of Silverhurst and Bishopscourt, but they still feel the need to be in charge of us peasants while they’re here.

Well, sod ’em. I don’t go into their posh-end estates and try to tell them where they can drive and park, do I?

No. Not often, anyway.

So, I’ll – legally – drive where I want and park where I want, when I want, thank you very much. Just cos you have a nice car and a posh Girl, it doesn’t make you the boss of me, lady.

Ha! And I told my wife I’d get right through this post without actually mentioning Herschel by name.
Mission accomplish-oh.

Lots of things

First off, it’s our son’s last day at school. Sort of, anyway.
He’s suddenly (yesterday, at least) 16 years old and he starts his exams next week. Thus, his study leave begins when the school bell rings this afternoon and wow… how scary is it that he’s so grown up already?

It’s terrifying.

Of course, the plan is for him to go back to school later this year and study much, much more, but technically, if he wanted to leave school now – he could. I am not ready for this news.

Next up, there’s Covid everywhere. (So we’re trying to keep the boy away from people because of those exams next week.) Every other conversation begins with someone who has got it. So yes, anecdotally, absolutely, because these things do sometimes correlate, but actually, as well.

And while we hope that this BA.4/BA.5-driven fifth wave won’t produce too much mortality, because of vaccinations and prior omicron exposure, there’s plenty of morbidity about, and hospital numbers are beginning to creep up as well.

While every new wave of this virus will be different, depending on what variant is responsible, this does give us a pretty good idea of what “living with Covid” will entail. A new wave every six or so months, with varying – but at the very least, significant – morbidity and mortality. But accurate, comparable data will likely be difficult to come by, with fewer people bothering to test (R300-600 each time) if their symptoms are mild and the restrictions they would face are either unpalatable to them or simply not dependent on the result. Because why would you if you’re an arse or it’s all for nothing?

In other – happier – news, we have a chance to go for a night away later this week to celebrate several (or more) wedded years. The place we’re staying looks stunning, and I began looking for a nearby restaurant for dinner. The local selection is large, and involves chalk and cheese:

Yep, this one is R1695 (£86, $109) (it does look a bit spesh though), but if that seems like too much, literally just across the road:

…you can get a “chip cone” for R35 (£1.70, $2.24).

I think we’ll try and find some middle ground.