Friday, April 22, 2005


Was the first mad cow French? (A triumph for all those EU health regulations?) "The brain of a French woman who died in 1971 shows evidence consistent with human mad cow disease, United Press International has learned, a finding that if confirmed would indicate the deadly disease began infecting people more than 20 years earlier than previously thought. A former National Institutes of Health scientist said he tested the woman's brain in 2000 and it showed a pattern that looked like variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease -- a fatal, brain-wasting illness humans can contract from eating beef products infected with the pathogen that causes mad cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE. VCJD was unheard of in 1971. The first recognized case was detected in the United Kingdom in 1995, so if the French woman did indeed suffer from vCJD, the case would shift the origins of the disease back more than two decades and possibly to a different country.... The pattern on the test "was more like BSE than CJD," Johnson said, noting he never saw a pattern like that in the hundreds of other brains from CJD patients he had tested.... A recent report published in the journal Veterinary Research estimated that from 1980 to 2000 more than 300,000 cattle were infected with BSE in France, yet went undetected."

Medical effects of "non-existent" race: "At least 29 medications have varying effects in different racial or ethnic populations, says biologist David B. Goldstein of the University College London. In the November 2004 Nature Genetics, he and his colleague Sarah K. Tate gave a detailed account of these treatments, which range from antipsychotics to cancer-chemotherapy drugs..... Genetic traits do appear to underlie some differences in disease susceptibility and response to therapies. For example, researchers have noted for years that because of differences in enzyme activity, people of Asian descent metabolize cholesterol-lowering statin drugs more slowly than other people do. As a result, some studies suggest, Asians are more susceptible to side effects at a given dose of statins. FDA recently advised physicians not to administer the highest allowed dose of one such drug, rosuvastatin (Crestor), to people of Asian ancestry."

Marvellous news: "The invisible "chain of transmission" of rubella virus has been broken in the United States. With it disappears a disease that a little more than a generation ago struck fear in the heart of every pregnant woman. Fewer than 10 people a year in this country now contract the infection known popularly as German measles. Since 2002, all cases have been traceable to foreigners who carried the virus in from abroad".

Arnold Kling has a properly cautious look at the reasons why Americans spend much more on health care than Europeans do. The one really well-substantiated difference seems to be that Americans on average get much more health care than Europeans do. Spending months and years on waiting lists -- which is normal in socialized medicine systems -- is certainly a good way of cutting down on the total amount of care that people get. People can (and do) die while waiting for an appointment. For examples, see SOCIALIZED MEDICINE


No comments: