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.

Day 708 – Mending/Mended

I was supposed to to go for boys’ dinner last night. I went to bed instead.

Good choice. I was broken.

I woke up this morning slightly less broken, but went for a precautionary lie down anyway and fell asleep for 4½ hours. If there has been any lesson that I have learnt over the past 8 months (ok, there have been several), it’s that sleep plays a huge part in recovery.

And so this afternoon has been a bit of catch up with a few of the things I would have wanted to do if I had felt able yesterday. (Sadly, not boys’ dinner, but…) Not too much though, because there’s United on TV tonight and I want to try and make it through to full time.

It hasn’t been a particularly pleasant 24 hours, but it’s still been many hundreds of times better than actually getting the real thing.

Go and get vaccinated. And if you already have been vaccinated: go and get boosted.

Day 608, part 2 – Worrying numbers

This graph, depicting Covid vaccination percentages and death rates for EU countries has been doing the rounds.

It’s pretty self explanatory, and pretty damning.

While Covid cases across Europe are spiking at the moment, there are two important things to take into account when reviewing the data: firstly, many of the cases at the moment seem to be in unvaccinated children (more reason to vaccinate them and quash that reservoir), and secondly, the death rates from Covid – when compared to the first wave (prior to vaccinations) – are thankfully much lower.

While we don’t have any means of stopping Covid 100%, using vaccinations (and other measures) is making a difference, and it’s clear from looking at graphs like the one above that countries are saving literally hundreds of thousands of lives by having effective vaccination policies.

Sadly, SA isn’t going to be one of those countries.

Stick us into that graph above and we’re sitting next to bottom at 35%. And we’re going nowhere fast:

It’s really looks like we’ve just given up. And sadly, that attitude is probably going to have some dire consequences over next next few months.

I’m running out of ideas to get people to get vaccinated. If literally saving your life isn’t going to persuade people, I have no idea what will. Well, apart from trying to avoid another alcohol ban, perhaps.

UPDATE: Now, this:

Well, no surprises there, given the numbers above. What a complete disaster.

Day 573 – 5k, 30 minutes, next April

A somewhat surreal experience at the specialist this afternoon yielded some mostly good news.

Surreal because the whole place looked like a building site, there was no receptionist, the doc himself looked like he had just finished working in his garden on a weekend, and the entire episode was accompanied by some energetic jazz funk on the radio. Then the previous patient – still clutching his fresh urine sample in one hand – asked if I could spare him R5 for parking. He was wearing a Liverpool shirt, so I took pity on him and gave him the money. In his other hand.

But once I was in the practice room, thankfully things were a bit more normal. Nice guy.

Let’s get the not so good bit over with first: no magic pill, no quick fix, no guaranteed timeline of escaping these crappy symptoms. That “you really just need to be patient,” line again, which seems to be the (admittedly justified) mantra for this thing. And a few more blood tests (LFTs, Cortisol etc.), just to check that the Covid symptoms aren’t hiding any other nasties. We’re all pretty sure that they’re not.

But mostly good news because – having had an ultrasound of my heart, a resting ECG and done some treadmilling (I got up to 6kph on a slight upward slope, for a whole 150 seconds!!) – I have permission to begin exercising again.
My heart is good and strong, I have no blood clots and my lungs are almost repaired. It’s just the rest of me that is completely broken and needs some work. So not klapping the gym, boet quite yet (it’s an absolute haven for Covid infections anyway), but a walk a day, increasing my pace and increasing my distance each week.

He stressed that he seen a number of patients who simply don’t seem to understand quite what a blow Covid has dealt them. The idea that once the acute symptoms have gone, you can go back to normal, just isn’t true. One also needs to recognise the regression that the infection has caused.
“You’re running 100m, but you’re starting 50m behind the starting blocks,” was his analogy.

Longest 100m ever.

Anyway, without putting any firm timeline on it, there was mention of six months (from now) to maybe get back to where I was. I almost cried. Six months might seem like a long while, but honestly, there have been a lot of times when I didn’t think I would ever get back there. And maybe I won’t. Or maybe it will take 3 months.
But there’s hope, and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and so I’ve set myself a goal: I’m going to run 5km in 30 minutes with my son on his birthday next year.

Possibly, anyway.

That will be more than 9 months to get myself back to normality after this “mild” infection, assuming this all goes to plan. So let me just drop the message in here once again that you can increase your chances of avoiding all this shit, simply by getting vaccinated. Incidentally, my doc thinks that the timing of my first vaccine dose might just have been the thing that kept me out of hospital. Thanks be to Pfizer.

I have already taken the beagle on a celebratory trip around the block, and so now I am ready for bed, but it doesn’t matter.

This has been a good day.

Day 560 – It’s gone again

Yesterday wasn’t great, but it did pique my scientific interest:

But how interesting is this disease? Yeah, you might have the odd off day while you’re getting over any viral nastiness, but to get the whole package again so quickly? Fine last night, rubbish this morning?

And then just disappear again overnight. Full on and then full off again. Entirely transient.
Because today I’m back to where I was the day before yesterday. You’d never even know that anything had happened, (well, aside from all the stuff that didn’t get done because I slept through yesterday morning).

The most interesting part for me is the brain thing. I have no means of accurately measuring it, unlike my heart rate and sats, but really, my brain was completely useless yesterday. I couldn’t remember names, couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t find words, couldn’t finish sentences. It was as bad as it’s ever been, and really, really frustrating.

And while the aches and pains were manageable with some medication, I couldn’t fix my brain that way.

And yet today? It’s every bit as good as it was before yesterday’s nonsense. Not perfect, but it’s had a rough few months. But it is working again.

But why? What happened yesterday and how did it cause all those – often very specific – symptoms and then where did it go today?

“Immune and metabolic dysregulation” is a very convenient, yet likely answer. But why “immune and metabolic dysregulation” in some people and in some instances and not others? Well, as with all novel conditions and pathogens, nailing the exact cause will come in time and will be key to stopping days like yesterday happening again.

In the meantime, get vaccinated, because yesterday’s unpleasantness is just another thing to add to this long list of stuff that you’re far more likely to avoid if you go and get jabbed.