Sponsorship Rewarded: a Long-Awaited Kickstarter Arrives

Over 4 years ago, in 2012, I pledged $35 toward a book to be written by a botanist from Europe who had moved to Costa Rica. The book was to be called Tropical Fruits of the World. The author, Rolf Blancke, used his Kickstarter funds, a relatively small $8,128 (goal: $7500) to travel and photograph rare tropical fruits.

Years passed, and we heard that the book was coming, but then the publisher changed, and eventually I wondered if the work would ever reach (pun intended) fruition.

So I was surprised and happy when a copy of the book, with its pink dragonfruit cover illustration, arrived today in the mail! This is a big work. Including three other chapters (on tropical palms, tubers, and spices and herbs) along with the promised chapter on fruit, it is a delight so far. The book is also on Amazon at this link, and I plan to review it here, eventually. I'll just say that among the 235 fruits photographed, described and cataloged in the book, there are many I've never seen, even at the Hilo Farmers' Market, which I had thought had them all.

Under some models of climate change, a large portion of the southern continental United States will be quite capable of growing many of these fruits by the time our great-grandchildren are of the age to plant them. So it's good to have information like this out there.

Kickstarter came through eventually this time.

Hawaii Volcano Sulfur Dioxide Emissions vs US Total Emissions.

With the decline in coal burning, sulfur dioxide pollution emissions in the US mainland have dipped down to about 3 million tons a year in recent years. On the other hand, based on the measurements taken with the geological model adopted over the past year, sulfur dioxide emissions from Kilauea's vents within the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park may be over 2 million tons a year. So the National Park Service, in Hawaii, remains our country's biggest emission source of sulfur dioxide, a cause of acid rain.

Anthropomorphic climate change is but part of a much bigger system of the earth's crust and atmosphere that remains dynamic with or without human outputs.

Homebrew (using insulin reusable autoinjector) EpiPen Alternative

If patients want this EpiPen alternative, but feel unable to meet the requirement for relatively sterile technique during assembly, they can have their doctor assemble it for them. If so, it should probably be replaced every few months.

Here.

Pete Basabe’s Butterflyfish (Prognathodes basabei Pyle and Kosaki 2016)

A new butterflyfish, found in the northwest Hawaiian islands of the newly expanded Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, is pictured here, taken by yours truly not in the water, but with a cell phone. Two of these new and exceedingly rare fish are now in the tank at the Mokupāpapa Discovery Center here.

A song to commemorate this new medium-deep reef species seems appropriate, so below there is an indirect Youtube link to Iz's rendition of a nearly century-old Kona, Hawaii fish song by Lot Kauwe, honoring the reef fish of the island. Pete Basabe is a Kona diver who has contributed greatly to reef fish knowledge here.

Weekend BioRxiv Preprint: "Zika virus infection as a cause of congenital brain abnormalities and Guillain-Barre syndrome: systematic review"

Highly recommended reading for those interested in emerging infectious diseases. A quote:

Guillain-Barré syndrome is a para or post-infectious neurological condition that can be triggered by a range of viral and bacterial infections [5]. Clusters of cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome have been reported in association with outbreaks of C. jejuni gastroenteritis [130]. The incidence of Guillain- Barré syndrome estimated from studies of the outbreak in French Polynesia of 0.24 per 1000 Zika virus infections [119], is at the lower end of estimates from studies of C. jejuni (0.3 per 1000 [131] and 1.17 per 1000 [132]). The reported latency between gastrointestinal symptoms and onset of paralysis of approximately 9 days (range 1-23 days) [131, 133, 134] is similar to Zika virus-associated cases. Other, mosquito-borne neurotropic flaviviruses have been reported as possible triggers of Guillain-Barré syndrome in case reports and case series; dengue virus [135], West Nile virus [136], Japanese B encephalitis virus [137, 138] or yellow fever 17D vaccination [139]. An acute poliomyelitis-like flaccid paralysis, resulting from direct neural infection presumably of anterior horn cells, has also been reported as a clinical consequence of these viruses [136, 140, 141]. Putative biological mechanisms include upregulation of MHC class I and II molecules of peripheral nerve cells and subsequent immune-mediated cell destruction [142], auto-antibodies directed against heat shock proteins [143], galactocerebrosides [144] or myelin basic protein (MBP), and proliferation of MBP specific T-cells [145].

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ABSTRACT

Zika virus infection as a cause of congenital brain abnormalities and Guillain-Barre syndrome: systematic review

Fabienne Krauer, Maurane Riesen, Ludovic Reveiz, Olufemi T Oladapo, Ruth Martinez-Vega, Teegwende V Porgo, Anina Haefliger, Nathalie J Broutet, Nicola Low, WHO Zika Causality Working Group

doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/073098

Abstract

Background

The World Health Organization stated in March 2016 that there was scientific consensus that the mosquito-borne Zika virus was a cause of the neurological disorder Guillain-Barre syndrome and of microcephaly and other congenital brain abnormalities, based on rapid evidence assessments. Decisions about causality require systematic assessment to guide public health actions. The objectives of this study were: to update and re-assess the evidence for causality through a rapid and systematic review about links between Zika virus infection and a) congenital brain abnormalities, including microcephaly, in the foetuses and offspring of pregnant women and b) Guillain-Barre syndrome in any population; and to describe the process and outcomes of an expert assessment of the evidence about causality.

Methods and findings

The study had three linked components. First, in February 2016, we developed a causality framework that defined questions about the relationship between Zika virus infection and each of the two clinical outcomes in 10 dimensions; temporality, biological plausibility, strength of association, alternative explanations, cessation, dose-response, animal experiments, analogy, specificity and consistency. Second, we did a systematic review (protocol number CRD42016036693). We searched multiple online sources up to May 30, 2016 to find studies that directly addressed either outcome and any causality dimension, used methods to expedite study selection, data extraction and quality assessment, and summarised evidence descriptively. Third, a multidisciplinary panel of experts assessed the review findings and reached consensus on causality. We found 1091 unique items up to May 30, 2016. For congenital brain abnormalities, including microcephaly, we included 72 items; for eight of 10 causality dimensions (all except dose-response relationship and specificity) we found that more than half the relevant studies supported a causal association with Zika virus infection. For Guillain-Barre syndrome, we included 36 items, of which more than half the relevant studies supported a causal association in seven of ten dimensions (all except dose-response relationship, specificity and animal experimental evidence). Articles identified non-systematically from May 30-July 29, 2016 strengthened the review findings. The expert panel concluded that: a) the most likely explanation of available evidence from outbreaks of Zika virus infection and clusters of microcephaly is that Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of congenital brain abnormalities including microcephaly; and b) the most likely explanation of available evidence from outbreaks of Zika virus infection and Guillain-Barre syndrome is that Zika virus infection is a trigger of Guillain-Barre syndrome. The expert panel recognised that Zika virus alone may not be sufficient to cause either congenital brain abnormalities or Guillain-Barre syndrome but agreed that the evidence was sufficient to recommend increased public health measures. Weaknesses are the limited assessment of the role of dengue virus and other possible co-factors, the small number of comparative epidemiological studies, and the difficulty in keeping the review up to date with the pace of publication of new research.

Conclusions

Rapid and systematic reviews with frequent updating and open dissemination are now needed, both for appraisal of the evidence about Zika virus infection and for the next public health threats that will emerge. This rapid systematic review found sufficient evidence to say that Zika virus is a cause of congenital abnormalities and is a trigger of Guillain-Barre situation.

Multiple sclerosis and the Gut Microbiome: Some Preclinical Results

The gut microbiome is measured by assessing the prokaryotic DNA of a stool sample, which reflects the various types of bacteria that are g...