Infectious Thoughts

‘Pseudoscience’ for profit

Siouxsie Wiles Sep 20, 2011

Every month a free 150 page glossy A4 magazine lands in my letter box, one of almost 17,000 distributed around Auckland’s inner suburbs. The Ponsonby News is essentially an enormous advertising feature, and being Ponsonby based, a number of the adverts are for acupuncturists and holistic spa’s. The Ponsonby News has a couple of ‘health correspondents’: John Appleton, … Read More


Mind altering microbes Part I: Suicidal crickets

Siouxsie Wiles Aug 18, 2011

I went to a fantastic departmental seminar yesterday by Associate Professor Mark Thomas about how parasites are able to manipulate the behaviour of their unfortunate host, usually as a means of enhancing transmission or to enable the parasite to reach the next phase of its life cycle. I wanted to share some of the fantastic examples Mark talked about, … Read More


A swift and deadly foe

Siouxsie Wiles Aug 02, 2011

I’ve just read in the NZ Herald that the chief executive of the construction company Fulton Hogan died suddenly and unexpectedly at the weekend, apparently within hours of contracting an aggressive meningococcal infection. The bug responsible, Neisseria meningitidis, is a pretty nasty one and the symptoms of infection can often be fatally mistaken for flu. N. meningitidis can cause … Read More


Should we be rethinking the HPV vaccination strategy?

Siouxsie Wiles Jun 22, 2011

A study just published in the Lancet suggests that Australia’s cervical cancer vaccination programme is already showing signs of success, with a decrease in the number of high-grade cervical abnormalities in vaccinated girls under 18. To quickly recap, the human papilloma virus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted infection which causes cervical cancer in women. A number of countries, including … Read More


Marketing headache – an apology

Siouxsie Wiles Jun 16, 2011

I recently wrote about an ‘advertising feature’ I saw in a magazine that discussed migraines before leading onto an advert for a migraine prevention medicine. I jumped to the conclusion that the ‘feature’ was paid for by the pharmaceutical company, but thought it best to get in touch with the magazine and check. So I owe Janssen‘s an … Read More


Marketing headache

Siouxsie Wiles Jun 12, 2011

Reading the July issue of North & South I came across a 4 page advertising feature called “Good Health Special Report”. It starts: Taking time out and making your own health and wellbeing a priority isn’t just a nice idea – it’s a necessity. Our health report also brings you some of the latest developments and research into common … Read More


An outbreak of crowdsourcing

Siouxsie Wiles Jun 09, 2011

Those familiar with my ‘infectious thoughts’ will know that I’m following the deadly European E. coli outbreak with great interest. Earlier this week, it was announced that the genome of the culprit strain had been sequenced by BGI (formally the Beijing Genomics Institute) in collaboration with the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf. A really interesting development has been release of … Read More


And then came the conspiracy theories….

Siouxsie Wiles Jun 08, 2011

Forensic evidence emerges that European e.coli superbug was bioengineered to produce human fatalities So says Mike Adams, also known as the ‘Health Ranger’, a “natural health researcher, author and award-winning journalist with a mission to teach personal and planetary health to the public“. He has just posted this astonishing article on his blog. Where do we begin? Lets start … Read More