parasite

  1. Contact lens germ can eat your eyeballs

    The bug in your water that could make you go blind

    Here's something to keep an eye on, especially if you wear contact lenses: There's a bug turning up in the water that can eat your eyeballs right out of your head.

    It's a single-celled parasite called Acanthamoeba, so small you can't see it with the naked eye.

    But that doesn't mean it's not there.

    It's found in tap water, showers, swimming pools, and more -- and since it loves to snack on dirty contact lenses, anyone who wears the things faces a much higher risk of infection.

    That infection starts with red, itchy, and painful eyes. Then, things go blurry. And once the bug eats through the cornea, you're in the dark... perhaps permanently.

    Some people need weeks of treatment or even a cornea transplant -- and even then, there's no guarantee you'll ever see right again.

    Luckily, you can slash your risk of infection without giving up your contacts. Just make sure you follow some common sense -- like carefully washing your hands before you put your lenses in and take them out.

    Clean your lens case regularly, and never use tap water as contact lens solution -- you may as well give the bug an invitation into your eyeball if you do. Even ordinary contact lens solution won't do the trick here, so be sure to use one that contains hydrogen peroxide.

    Finally, keep Acanthamoeba and all the other bugs, chemicals, and drugs out of your water by installing a reverse osmosis water filter. Since this amoeba can strike in the kitchen, bathroom or even your shower, install the filter where the water enters your home to make sure every tap is protected.

  2. Researchers warn of third world diseases in the U.S.

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    Researchers warn of third world diseases in the U.S.

    With disturbing regularity, I seem to be telling you about more and more third world diseases and ailments that are popping up right here in the U.S. This is not good. I believe that these increases of tropical diseases are directly related to the increased number of illegal immigrants here in the States from all manner of unhygienic parts of the globe.

    The parasitic worm disease called schistosomiasis is yet another example. Like many of these third world diseases, schistosomiasis is actually one of the most common parasitic infections in the whole world, infecting 207 million every year. Of course, the majority of these people are in the Asia, South America, Africa, the Middle East, and the Caribbean (and no, I don't mean Club Med).

    Schistosomiasis is caused by flatworms that live in snail-infested fresh water; this water is contaminated by worm eggs when infected people urinate or defecate into it. Schistosomiasis is contracted when people swim, bathe, fish or rice farm in the contaminated water.

    "This is a disease of poverty," McGarvey said. "If you had proper sewage disposal systems for humans and animals, you wouldn't be contaminating the environment with the [worm] eggs."

    The good news - if there is good news in a story like this - is that the disease has merely increased worldwide; there's been no mention of a significant uptick here in the States.yet. But I wouldn't breath a sigh of relief. Researchers say we need more resources allocated to beating it back. One of the authors of the study, Steven McGarvey, director of the International Health Institute at Brown University, said, "We're basically ringing the bell; attention must be paid."

    In other words, if we're not careful, this parasite could be coming to a town near you.

    Yet another reason to build that fence!!

    No break for diabetes sufferers

    Nektar finally pulled funding for Exubera - its inhaled insulin product - six full months after Pfizer bailed as their marketing partner. Pfizer pulled out of their agreement not because the drug was directly linked to lung cancer, but because it wasn't on track to make enough money. Just warms your heart, doesn't it?

    Clinical trials determined that the product could be linked to lung cancer, but the FDA approved it anyway - provided it came with a warning label. Can they be serious? For now, I'll set aside the fact that the FDA even allowed the drug to make it to the market in the first place.

    What ended up on the product is hardly what I'd call a warning label. It stated that all patients who developed lung cancer had a history of cigarette smoking and that there were too few cases to determine if the inhaled insulin drug was the cause of the lung cancer. Hardly an admission of guilt.

    But here's what I love about this story: The consumers weren't outsmarted by the drug company marketing B.S. They decided that the threat of lung cancer wasn't worth the convenience of the inhaler, and most chose to leave the inhaler right where it belonged - on the store shelves.

    This is a small example, to be sure. But stories like this one remind me that just because Big Pharma can buy its way into just about anything - YOU'RE the one with the ultimate power. They can't sell what you're not buying.

    Something to keep in mind.

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