The USDA has appealed a district court decision that would allow meatpackers to conduct their own tests for mad cow disease, alleging that such testing would only create “false assurances.” The original plaintiff, Creekstone Farms, wants to test all of its cattle for mad cow but the USDA has prevented it from buying the testing kits.
The CDC says several large salmonella outbreaks going back to 2006 were started by tainted dog food. “This is the first time human illness has been linked to dry dog food,” says a CDC epidemiologist. Always wash your hands after handling pet food.
On December 12th, the U.S. District Court of New Jersey sentenced Elizabeth Lerner, a.k.a. Elizabeth Cooperman, to 33 months in prison for “falsely claiming that she could cure amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly called ‘Lou Gehrig’s Disease.'” Her crime partner, former osteopath Charlene C. DeMarco, was sentenced to 57 months back in September.
For $1,000, a small California-based company called 23andMe (financed in part by Google) will decode your DNA and tell you whatever it can about your predispositions, health risks, and family traits—for example, whether or not you’re in line for the same heart disease that affected your father and grandfather, which is what the author of the Wired article wondered. (Turns out he’s not, but he’s at a higher risk of developing glaucoma. When one door opens…)
Now that MSRA, or methicillin-resistant staph, has taken the lead as America’s Worst Infection, killing more people annually than AIDS, it’s a good time to learn a little more about how to avoid it, how to identify it, and what to do if you suspect you have it. The New York Times offers a brief, helpful article about the topic, answering questions like “What can I do to lower my risk of catching it?” and “Where does it lurk?”
Attention residents of Calgary: Anyone who ate at the McDonald’s at Foothills Industrial Park, 5326 72 Ave. S.E., across from the Calgary Soccer Centre from Oct. 1 to 23 is at risk for Hepatitis A after a food handler tested positive for the disease.
Michael Crichton has an excellent essay up over at the New York Times concerning medical company Metabolite’s efforts to defend its patent of a scientific fact before the Supreme Court tomorrow. There’s a lot of interesting commentary on the negative ramifications of companies owning ideas, associations, scientific theories, surgical procedures, products of nature… and, in the case of the Human Genome, the building blocks to human life itself.
Despite the fact that over the last couple of months there have been several reports of U.S. cattle infected with Mad Cow’s Disease, the USDA intends to ramp down its testing of American cattle herds, not ramp it up.