Infectious Thoughts

Emotive hysteria trumps opportunity to educate (now there’s a surprise!)

Siouxsie Wiles Mar 05, 2012

University’s death toll – 25,000 animals in two years So screams the front page of the print version of the March 5th edition of the New Zealand Herald (online here). The story was originally written by Matthew Haggart for the Otago Daily Times and concerns the statistics on animal use for research and teaching at the University of … Read More

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Survival of the brightest

Siouxsie Wiles Mar 04, 2012

Regular readers will be well aware of my obsession with bioluminescence, that beautiful light produced by things like fireflies and glow worms. So I was excited to see this paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Margarita Zarubin and colleagues have discovered why so many non-symbiotic marine bacteria are bioluminescent. It turns out that … Read More

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NZ Herald does no research, helps spread false hope (again)

Siouxsie Wiles Mar 02, 2012

Parents must raise $375,000 to take Jesse to US for radical treatment Thanks to ‘Trouble‘ for pointing out Matthew Theunissen’s article ‘Hope for toddler with rare tumour’ in today’s NZ Herald. Surprise, surprise, it’s about that bastion of radical cancer therapy, the Burzynski clinic. Here is my letter to the editor. Feel free to add your own! Thanks also … Read More

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The NZ Herald “alternative relaxation and therapies” series revisited

Siouxsie Wiles Mar 01, 2012

Back in January Jann Bellamy who blogs over at Science Based Medicine had the (mis)fortune of being in our fine country during the week the NZ Herald chose to run their series on ‘alternative relaxation and remedies”. She has written a fine piece giving her take on the series*. You might remember many of us got a little peeved … Read More

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‘Flu’ flight triggers mild panic

Siouxsie Wiles Feb 13, 2012

This morning Auckland airport was apparently on alert after an Air New Zealand flight landed from Japan with a quarter of its passengers reportedly suffering from flu-like symptoms. According to this report, officials were alerted by the Captain just before they landed. This story is quite interesting on a number of fronts. Japan is currently experiencing a nationwide … Read More

The return of sanatoria?

Siouxsie Wiles Feb 07, 2012

In the pre-antibiotic era, the gold standard treatment for the lung disease tuberculosis (TB) was plenty of rest and fresh air. Facilities to house TB patients, known as sanatoria, sprang up in Europe and North America in the late 19th century, usually up mountains or in isolated forests. Although no controlled studies have established the effectiveness of any … Read More

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Academic publishing – are the winds of change starting to blow?

Siouxsie Wiles Feb 02, 2012

Ages ago I wrote about the academic publishing model we biologists are subjected to*. Finally it seems as though the winds of change are beginning to blow. Here’s hoping a gale develops. Currently doing the rounds is a site where academics can pledge to take a stand against the giant publishing house Elsevier. The objections are: 1. They … Read More

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