Monday, April 17, 2006

Ladybirds and other bugs

You may remember Denise, my faithful and efficient receptionist. On the other hand you may not. She is famously shy and does not crave publicity in any form. The only known picture of her is one I submitted to this blog some time ago, and can be seen here. Since then she has carried out her duties with care and attention, shunning contact with the outside world as much as possible. Why that is the case I cannot imagine, for she has much to offer. For example, look at this beautiful picture of ladybirds hunting aphids on the buds of a Hungarian Oak tree. She took this picture this morning whilst out collecting hedghog scat (Ravel, my number one research assistant, is on annual leave and has decided to walk Hadrians wall for fun).

I had no idea of her photographic prowess, and am now thinking of promoting her to Official Photographer here at the institute.

In other news, we had an exciting moment this morning when someone from the nearest village turned up at the institute claiming to have seen my blog entry on how I became a celebrity (Part V), and to offer an explanation as to how someone in PNG could have contracted a botfly infection. He claimed that he was a judo fighter himself, and had once fought the former judo champion in South America, where botflies are endemic. Aha! I thought. That confirms my own suspicions, and those of Gorilla Bananas, that this was a case of an imported infection.

Which brings me neatly around to todays topic. Did you know that every so often there is an outbreak of malaria around Geneva airport? There has been a steady increase in the number of imported malaria cases in Europe over the years. An article published by the Wellcome Trust gives a brief history of European malaria (notice the photo - it appears on this recent post by Footeater...hmmmm). Re-emerging infectious diseases are a real concern for the future with the apparent inevitability of global warming, so make sure you take some prophylaxis whenever you go travelling.

(This travel advice was brought to you by McCrumble Travel - Experts in Prevention of Nasty Diseases whilst Abroad (Tm))


Binty McShae said...

I have to say I hear more about Malaria cases in Europe than I do here in Asia... and as for Avian Flu? All that fuss from my family in Bonnie Scotland about being careful over here (Sinless City has yet to have a single case, incidentally) and lo and behold, a swan bites the bullet back there!

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

I'm not allowed to give blood in America because of the BSE.

Apparantly global warming has raised some areas of the Gulf of Mexico by as much as 3 degrees which will not only soup up hurricane activity there but the raised temperature has bleached vast areas of coral, leaving it suscpetible to disease which has already done for much of it. Commercial fisheries in the gulf and the whole ecology of the area depend on the coral forests. Coral grows slowly at a rate of half the thickness of an American dime a year so we have already reached one of the tipping points we might never come back from in our lifetimes.

Global warming is, as many have said, a more serious risk to our way of life than any terrorist organisation.

Foot Eater said...

I take prophylaxis wherever I go, Dr McC. I still get malaria from time to time but have never caught a sexually transmitted infection.

Gorilla Bananas said...

I had a different suspicion, of course, but I have no wish to add to your legal worries. By the way, "Earl Jackson", who complained about the length of an earlier post of yours, is apparently the same person as Sol Kashberg, the former "chase me ladies" parasite.

Dr Joseph McCrumble said...

Binty: There must be some sort of conspiracy of silence if that is the case. Resistance to anti-malarial drugs nearly always begins in SE Asia before spreading westwards.

Sam: I agree. The devastation has only just begun.

FE: Aaah, yes, of course I should have mentioned that condoms do NOT protect against malaria. Sorry.

GB: What was your suspicion then?

SheBah said...

GB - how do you know they are both the same person?

Charlie said...

Dear Dr: Since I am new to your journal, I am attempting to find out more about you and your work. The task is, as you might suspect, daunting.

I have just completed the story about Denise (a lovely creature) and the early history of the Institute. I am not ashamed to say that it made me cry. Several times. You remind me of young Copperfield.

I have a question, if you don't mind, unrelated to your specialty.

It is about these secret words I am required to enter because of the virulent parasite, the spammerbot. I possess a first-rate pair of spectacles, and I am somewhat knowledgeable about the 21 letters of the English alphabet. I have therefore determined that it is the handwriting of the fellow who, uh, writes the secret words.

My question, then, is this: Do you suppose this fellow is a doctor, doctor?

Gorilla Bananas said...

Sexybeauty, Earl Jackson left a comment on my blog (which he soon deleted). I am certain this was from an ISP in Israel. In addition, there was a comment in Harry's blog complaining about another comment which had called Kashberg "a turd". Although this commenter used a different name, he made the mistake of leaving his homepage, which was the Earl Jackson blog.

Doctor Joe, a man who works with parasites might grow to appreciate them enough to keep a few as pets.

Dr Joseph McCrumble said...

Pooper - I can honestly reveal that the letters you must type are the work of a software-robot type thing. Whether this piece of software carries a post-graduate qualification, a medical docorate, or an MA, I have no idea, for we are not on speaking terms. Even if we were, I suspect it may be difficult to decipher any meaning in what it says.

GB - It is Ravel, my ever faithful research assistant, who plays host to a harem of tapeworms. I may confess that I did once infect myself out of curiosity, but the poor thing expired, one proglottid at a time until only its scolex remained. Then I ate a Ugandan mango and out it popped (well, slithered).

SafeTinspector said...

For just a moment I thought it read "imported fictitious diseases"
Like Purple Scumble, Genital Humming, and Thumbnail Perplexia, I suppose.

Only later did I realize my mistake.
Your assistant is an excellent photographer, though she doesn't photograph well.

TafeSinpectors said...

GB:Such a sleuthy primate you are! Do you know, then, who I am?

Dr Joseph McCrumble said...

SafeT - aaaaw, she just blushed!

I'm thinking of letting her exhibit over on my art pages providing I can coax her into producing some more images. I'm sure a little encouragement from the blogging fraternity is what she needs!

A ficticious infection indeed! How could you have even entertained the idea. I am a responsible scientist, incapable of predicating upon a lie etc etc etc

Dr Joseph McCrumble said...

oops, link doesn't work

check the sidebar

DrKNOW said...

Love your site! I was actually trained as a molecular immunoparasitologist, but have veered from that training a tad. I do miss the protozoans though. Awesome little creatures.