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Researcher Dies After Studying Plague Bacteria

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the scientists-need-hazard-pay dept.

Medicine 143

Malcolm J. Casadaban, a molecular genetics professor at the University of Chicago, died last Sunday, seemingly from an infection of a weakened form of Yersinia pestis, the bacteria that causes the plague. "Because this form of the bacteria is not known to cause problems in healthy people, special safety procedures are not required to handle it, said Dr. Kenneth Alexander, a virologist and chief of pediatric infections at the U. of C. Medical Center. Lab researchers who work with the bacteria would typically wear gloves, a lab coat and protective goggles, and the bacteria would be disposed of in a biohazard bag and heated for about two hours, Alexander said. Two key questions in Casadaban's death will be whether there was anything different about the strain of bacteria he was handling and whether Casadaban had any underlying conditions that may have made him more susceptible to infection."

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We're screwed (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29483277)

Man, we're so screwed now. This is like a movie. Who knows who he had contact with? It probably morphed in some way and now it's going to sweep the globe wiping out most of the population. :(

Re:We're screwed (3, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483295)

If I understand correctly, the plague wasn't transmitted from human to human, but rather from lice to humans. Since lice are nowhere near as prevalent as they used to be, you don't normally have to fear an outbreak.

Re:We're screwed (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29483315)

Fleas->Rats ->Fleas->Humans

Re:We're screwed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29483357)

Yeah, but that won't stop people from hopping around crying 'God-playing man-child scientist will plague us all!' It's a good story.

Re:We're screwed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29483363)

whew!

Re:We're screwed (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29483385)

If I understand correctly, the plague wasn't transmitted from human to human, but rather from lice to humans. Since lice are nowhere near as prevalent as they used to be, you don't normally have to fear an outbreak.

Not necessarily. [amazon.com]

The author makes a convincing argument that the Black Death was actually spread by droplet based transmission.

Re:We're screwed (5, Informative)

rve (4436) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483549)

If I understand correctly, the plague wasn't transmitted from human to human, but rather from lice to humans. Since lice are nowhere near as prevalent as they used to be, you don't normally have to fear an outbreak.

Not necessarily. [amazon.com]

The author makes a convincing argument that the Black Death was actually spread by droplet based transmission.

The plague never went away. Even after the last pandemic, people still have been contracting the plague. Yersinia pestis is still endemic among rodents in Europe, Asia and the USA. Small outbreaks, with the exact same symptoms still occur today from time to time. The history of this disease is extremely well documented, and not at all controversial.

When the infection reaches the lungs it's called Pneumonic plague, it spreads via droplets and is extremely contageous. When it infects the lymph nodes, it's called Bubonic plague. It's the same disease, just in a different organ. When the infection reaches the blood, it's called Septic Plague.

It's not as dangerous now, because we don't commonly share our homes with rodents and lice anymore, and with prompt treatment with antibiotics, the prognosis is decent.

Now I haven't read that book that you linked to, so I don't know what arguments they make, but a hypothesis that states that the black death was a different disease with the exact same symptoms as a very well known and documented disease that still occurs today seems needlessly complicated to me.

Re:We're screwed (5, Interesting)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483607)

Yersinia pestis is still endemic among rodents in Europe, Asia and the USA.

That's true. In fact, most public campgrounds here in California have signs warning of plague danger and advising people to keep their distance from ground squirrels, which are known carriers of the yersinia pestis bacterium.

Re:We're screwed (3, Informative)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483705)

Here in Colorado we find Prairie Dogs yearly that are plague carriers

Re:We're screwed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484585)

here in Alabama we call that lunch with a kick.

Re:We're screwed (0, Offtopic)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483721)

"seems needlessly complicated to me."

Occam, is that you? I still want my razor back!! I didn't GIVE it to you, I only LOANED IT!! Why does the whole world think that it's YOUR RAZOR?????

Re:We're screwed (2, Interesting)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483823)

The key is antibiotic as much as anything.

Middle ages folks had very little concept of contagion prevention.. germs weren't even discovered for a few hundred more years. I'd think that perhaps the middle ages plague was a combination of nasty things.. remember, it wasn't one "great plague" but a series of famines and pandemics over 50-75 years, peaking every 10-15 years killing 25%-50% of towns. The ones that survived benefited two-fold. First they passed on natural immunity to our generations that helps slow the spread, and second they were suffering effects of extreme overpopulation, few children were being born and mortality was high. With fewer people they were able to grow stronger to resist it until the disease burned out.

Re:We're screwed (1)

noundi (1044080) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484869)

... and second they were suffering effects of extreme overpopulation...

The parallel between Malthusian limit and the plague is very vague. To simply assume that the deaths of millions of Europeans caused by a disease spread from central Asia is due to overpopulation is a prime example of fallacy of the single cause [wikipedia.org] .

While I don't disagree entirely with the concept of Malthusian limit, I do however strongly doubt that it is related to this.

Re:We're screwed (2, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484269)

Now I haven't read that book that you linked to, so I don't know what arguments they make, but a hypothesis that states that the black death was a different disease with the exact same symptoms as a very well known and documented disease that still occurs today seems needlessly complicated to me.

"Needlessly complicated"? Remember, you're talking to a bunch of people who recently thought spending an entire weekend compiling Gentoo was perfectly normal behavior.

Re:We're screwed (2, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483397)

Since lice are nowhere near as prevalent as they used to be,

Sales of Rid and Nix, which increase every fall with the new school year starting up and winter coming, disagree. Lice are still plentiful.

Re:We're screwed (1)

siloko (1133863) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483673)

Lice are still plentiful.

They may be as plentiful but they shower more, so less of those pesky bacteria things.

Re:We're screwed (2, Funny)

kurzweilfreak (829276) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484431)

O RLY?! [slashdot.org]

Re:We're screwed (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483579)

As another poster notes, it's transmission from rats to fleas to humans (or more rats). And there is a particularly lethal variant of the plague that is airborne and spreads directly from human to human.

Re:We're screwed (2, Funny)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483577)

now it's going to sweep the globe wiping out most of the population.

You say that as if it's a bad thing...

Re:We're screwed (1, Redundant)

celibate for life (1639541) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483711)

Except Madagascar.

third key question (4, Funny)

s4m7 (519684) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483283)

when he rises from the dead, will he spread the contagion through his bite, and will cutting off his head finally kill him?

Re:third key question (3, Funny)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483303)

That's why we embalm or cremate folks now. That whole rising from the dead thing causes nothing but problems, however it manifests itself.

Re:third key question (4, Funny)

X-Power (1009277) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483319)

How does embalming stop the dead from rising? By fooling people with their good looks?

Re:third key question (3, Informative)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483759)

*sigh*

Silly boy. We want to make sure some poor bastard isn't buried alive, so we drain ALL of his blood!! Even vampires don't walk again once we've flushed their radiators with Drano!!

Re:third key question (1)

rickkw (920898) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483899)

no, by turning them into good looking mannequins.

Re:third key question (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29483395)

That's why we embalm or cremate folks now. That whole rising from the dead thing causes nothing but problems, however it manifests itself.

Just make sure to not embalm people with Worcestershire sauce [wikipedia.org] .

Re:third key question (1)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483521)

Embalming is used to BE SURE you are dead. We cannot have any last minute recoveries.
Uncle is a Mortician.

Re:third key question (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483671)

I'm sure chopping their heads off would work too ?

Re:third key question (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483865)

because once they drain the vital fluids (so you don't rot so quickly) you're dead for sure, even if you weren't before!

Although that doesn't really seem to be zombie/vampire protection though. The ancient Egyptians had it right to scramble the brains and remove them.

Re:third key question (3, Funny)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483595)

That's why we embalm or cremate folks now. That whole rising from the dead thing causes nothing but problems

Clearly someone has not seen the Mummy etc.

Re:third key question (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29483597)

That's why we embalm or cremate folks now. That whole rising from the dead thing causes nothing but problems, however it manifests itself.

Seemed to turn out pretty well for that Jesus dude.

Re:third key question (1, Insightful)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483681)

But not it seems for the hundred of thousands who have died in his name since.

Re:third key question (-1, Troll)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484021)

pffft, they were all going to die and go to hell anyway, just sent there a little sooner is all

Re:third key question (3, Funny)

s4m7 (519684) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483761)

Seemed to turn out pretty well for that Jesus dude.

Bah. Three days to respawn? He must've done some serious TKing or something.

Re:third key question (4, Funny)

Eudial (590661) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483901)

Since he was walking on clipped tiles and handing out more objects than could possibly fit in his inventory, there was justified suspicion of some form of cheating. I think the server has been patched now, though, since that doesn't seem to happen as often.

Re:third key question (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#29485627)

Suspicion of? Apparently he was given sudo power because his old man is root on the server, but it was revoked. And like all sons he was fired upwards to sit at the CEO's right hand, they even made one helluva PR stunt out of it. Dying isn't quite the sacrifice it used to be when you don't stay dead and get an eternity in heaven, I'm fairly sure many would take that severance package, even if the crucifiction is somewhat naster than being escorted out by the security guard.

A brief rememberence of Prof. Casadaban (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29483321)

I took a lab class from him on genetic engineering in the late 90s. Though he was a little eccentric at times, and spoke with an incredibly soft voice, I remember him as a professor who would spend countless hours with the undergraduate students, teaching them to learn the basics of molecular biology - the U of C will be worse off without this devotion, without him. He even wrote me a recommendation letter for graduate school, but I've lost touch with him since then, now, to my infinite regret. May he rest in piece.

Re:A brief rememberence of Prof. Casadaban (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29483343)

May he rest in piece.

Ultimately we ALL will rest in piece.

I suspect you meant peace.

Re:A brief rememberence of Prof. Casadaban (4, Funny)

baKanale (830108) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483437)

Ultimately we ALL will rest in piece.

Unless you get hit by a grenade. Then it's pieces.

Re:A brief rememberence of Prof. Casadaban (4, Insightful)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483569)

Ultimately we ALL will rest in piece.

Unless you get hit by a grenade. Then it's pieces.

I imagine it depends on whether the person throwing the grenade pulled the pin first, otherwise you'd just have a nasty bruise. ;)

Re:A brief rememberence of Prof. Casadaban (1)

zmooc (33175) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484111)

Even worse, you wouldn't have rest either...

Re:A brief rememberence of Prof. Casadaban (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29485015)

You might if it hit you on the head...

Re:A brief rememberence of Prof. Casadaban (1)

burkmat (1016684) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484845)

+5 Insightful? Really?

Re:A brief rememberence of Prof. Casadaban (4, Funny)

rhyder128k (1051042) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484649)

With a dry cool wit like that, you could be an action hero.

Re:A brief rememberence of Prof. Casadaban (1, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483417)

He even wrote me a recommendation letter for graduate school, but I've lost touch with him since then, now, to my infinite regret

If what killed him was a mutated version of the plague, you may be a little less regretful.

Re:A brief rememberence of Prof. Casadaban (1)

gavron (1300111) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483503)

Amen.

E

Is it just me... (1)

rcolbert (1631881) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483341)

...or does this sound like the intro to a very unoriginal survival-horror video game? "Resident Evil IX: Bubonic Destiny"

Re:Is it just me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29483375)

or Final Fantasy XX: We've really just stopped trying

Oh good (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29483347)

Now my outfits [wikipedia.org] will finally come back in style, and I can get all the chicks instead of lots of stares and police harassment.

Re:Oh good (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483467)

People are so unfair!

       

Re:Oh good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29483685)

Now my outfits [wikipedia.org] will finally come back in style, and I can get all the chicks instead of lots of stares and police harassment.

No, while with these outfits [geocities.com] you'll certainly get all the chicks harassed, you will also get the police harassment ...

Re:Oh good (1)

J_Omega (709711) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483855)

Thank you for the Halloween costume idea!

Cause of Death? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29483361)

"An initial autopsy showed that Casadaban "showed no obvious cause of death"", the report goes on to state that the found the bacteria in his bloodstream.
 
  What was his white cell count? Were cytokines present in his bloodstream? Was his lymphatic system showing signs of duress (engorged, trapped glands; cell death)?
 
I'm also a bit wary of the fact that the report was released from the University Medical Center where the man worked, not the local Medical Examiner's office. I'd love to see a second conclusion, and not have to fear that the University is doing this as a publicity stunt for their research programme.
 
Going to be a real embarassment if we find out he died of a cheeseburger, or embollism, or insulin-related shock.
 
If I get out of my car and promptly drop dead, you're not going to say that driving my car was the cause of death.

Re:Cause of Death? (1)

TheReij (1641099) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483387)

You would hope that any research university that wishes to maintain credibility would not pull a stunt like you proposed.

However, I agree that it would be interesting to see what the city/county/state/federal medical examiner would think of this. Plague is plague if you ask me and should be treated seriously.

Re:Cause of Death? (5, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483449)

If I get out of my car and promptly drop dead, you're not going to say that driving my car was the cause of death.

Guess it all depends on who you cut off...

Re:Cause of Death? (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483649)

If I get out of my car and promptly drop dead, you're not going to say that driving my car was the cause of death.

That might depend a lot on the condition of the car in question at the time of your death. If you catch my drift.

Re:Cause of Death? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484425)

That might depend a lot on the condition of the car in question at the time of your death. If you catch my drift.

Are you talking about exhaust leaks, or "headlights staring at each other"?

Great. (2, Funny)

XPeter (1429763) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483435)

First Swine Flu, and now this shit?

May we all pray the remaining survivors (Steve Jobs, Chuck Norris, Richard Stallman and Cowboy Neal) start a new civilization.

Re:Great. (0, Redundant)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483713)

Except they're all dudes. Where the females at? Need some chicks to do repopulating.

Re:Great. (2, Funny)

sgbett (739519) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484083)

I have no idea why, but I immediately thought of 7 of 9 for the job.

Re:Great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29485659)

But, I thought they all ran windows...

movie plot (3, Insightful)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483441)

Isn't this where the plot for about a dozen movies kicks in?

Re:movie plot (1)

Torodung (31985) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483945)

Not the least of which is "The Darwin Awards [imdb.com] ."

--
Toro

The safety measures are wholly inadequate. (-1, Flamebait)

yourassOA (1546173) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483455)

You would think plagues and other horrible diseases should be eradicated not preserved to experiment with later. Take small pox it was supposed to be eradicated but they just won't let it die [bio-medicine.org] . But curing diseases would be a bad business model and lead to their eventual unemployment.

Re:The safety measures are wholly inadequate. (3, Insightful)

BungaDunga (801391) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483517)

Because we don't know who ELSE has stocks of the disease and might want to turn it into a weapon. Plus the more we learn about infectious disease in general the better we can fight it. Anyway how does that link have anything to do with it? The more they vaccinate people, the less likely smallpox will come back. Manufacturing vaccines has NOTHING to do with having live, viable stocks of the actual disease. Which do exist, but that's a totally different issue.

Re:The safety measures are wholly inadequate. (2, Interesting)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483643)

Smallpox is still out in the wild. Vaccines are a calculated risk. You have to figure you will injure or kill XX number of people with the vaccine, versus the number of people that will die as a result of another epidemic. I believe the numbers recently flip-flopped and the risk of harm from the vaccine has become worse than the risk of contracting the disease and many areas are no longer requiring it. The whole controversy over mercury in the vaccines causing autism is still hotly debated, though.

Re:The safety measures are wholly inadequate. (1)

adamchou (993073) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483775)

Smallpox is still out in the wild

The WHO certified its eradication in 1979 [who.int] so if you know something that the WHO doesn't, I'd like to see a reference that can substantiate your claim.

Re:The safety measures are wholly inadequate. (1)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484757)

By "in the wild", I meant that there are samples of the virus that are not in direct control of someone we trust. My point was that we are weighing the risk of an epidemic (quite likely if smallpox is used as a weapon) against the harm that will happen to a small percentage of the population as a side effect of mass vaccinations.

Re:The safety measures are wholly inadequate. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#29485409)

I'm not sure if I know something the WHO don't. I know something you don't: the WHO certainly did not have unrestricted access to classified military laboratories in the US, UK and Soviet Union. Since the break up of the latter, their stockpiles could be who (not WHO) knows where.

Re:The safety measures are wholly inadequate. (1)

adamchou (993073) | more than 4 years ago | (#29485719)

being in a laboratory is far from being "in the wild". besides that, the WHO does actually have access to smallpox reserves in secure facilities for testing purposes. so rogue military organizations are not the only ones that have samples of it, if any of them have samples. but like i said earlier. having stockpiles of it for medical research is hardly "in the wild". btw, i know something you don't: the difference between don't and doesn't.

Re:The safety measures are wholly inadequate. (1)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483797)

True, but take note there are 2 issues here:

  • Whether to vaccinate people or not, possibly with (serious?) side-effects. With smallpox eradicated and remaining stocks of live virus secured in just a few locations, the answer might be "NO: serious side-effects vs. 0 risk of contracting the disease". But professionals in the field are better equipped to answer that question than I am.
  • Whether to destroy all known stocks of live virus. That may not be a good idea when those stocks are few, well secured, and unknown stocks may exists (or even small pockets of live virus in the wild). Smallpox would be a bad choice as biological weapon anyway: over time, a 'successful' attack by (for example) a Muslim terrorist has potentially >1 billion Muslim victims, vs. 300+ million US citizens. A virus isn't selective who it infects, and it doesn't have a remote-control kill switch.

Re:The safety measures are wholly inadequate. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#29485391)

I believe the numbers recently flip-flopped and the risk of harm from the vaccine has become worse than the risk of contracting the disease

Do you want to buy a bridge?

Re:The safety measures are wholly inadequate. (4, Insightful)

rve (4436) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483661)

You would think plagues and other horrible diseases should be eradicated not preserved to experiment with later. Take small pox it was supposed to be eradicated but they just won't let it die [bio-medicine.org] . But curing diseases would be a bad business model and lead to their eventual unemployment.

Smallpox was a virus that could only infect humans. With most humans immunized, it has nowhere else to go and it disappeared. Yersinia pestis can't be eradicated. It's a bacterium that is endemic among rodents. You would have to exterminate rodents from the wild in most of Eurasia and North America and still not completely eradicate it.

Re:The safety measures are wholly inadequate. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29483813)

Smallpox exists all over the world in the freezers of research labs. There has/had been an intense debate on whether or not to eradicate the last samples in existence (assuming Dr. Scientist will admit to having some.) Safety of the world/rightfulness of destroying another life form (scratched my head with that one)/diminishing human resistance to a pathogen by removing it from the ecosystem, lots of (sometimes silly) arguments.

Re:The safety measures are wholly inadequate. (0)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29485025)

You would have to exterminate rodents from the wild in most of Eurasia and North America

I am intrigued by your idea, and wish to subscribe to your newsletter...

Re:The safety measures are wholly inadequate. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29485245)

Instead of eradicating rodents, wouldn't it be easier to inoculate them much how we did the human population?

Re:The safety measures are wholly inadequate. (2, Interesting)

rcamans (252182) | more than 4 years ago | (#29485297)

Actually, exterminating the rodents is not the cure. Sprinkle malathion or parathion on cotton balls and scatter them around where the kids and pets cannot get them. Rodents gather them up and use them in their nests. The stuff kills off all the riders the rodents have on them. and walaa, no more mites, lice, fleas, etc. This has been tried and is effective for wiping out the deer tick - mouse vector for lyme disease in whole counties for years. I do not understand why it is not used more commonly. I guess maybe some liberals objected to inhumane treatment of lice. Someone called Peta?

Re:The safety measures are wholly inadequate. (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484201)

But curing diseases would be a bad business model and lead to their eventual unemployment.

Oddly, people like you are the ones who think this way, whereas the medical profession and makers of vaccines seem to prefer eradication. Hence the current status of smallpox, polio, malaria, measles, etc. (in the U.S.).

However, as noted elsewhere, the Y. pestis plague cannot be effectively eradicated, as it uses rodents as a reservoir. Eliminating such diseases is very difficult.

Re:The safety measures are wholly inadequate. (1)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484827)

But curing diseases would be a bad business model.

I think this attitude is present in the pharmaceutical industry and drives some of their research priorities. I don't think its present in the general medical research as those guys honestly want to understand and cure a disease as their first priority, and second if it can't be cured at least manage it.

Re:The safety measures are wholly inadequate. (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 4 years ago | (#29485141)

That would make it something of a challenging business model on the smaller scale, since it's general medical practitioners who end up prescribing your drugs. The company that produces the drug that cures the disease is going to get substantially more sales than the one that simply alleviates the symptoms.

On the larger scale, disease eradication isn't exactly simply a matter of pharmaceutical research -- it's very difficult. Still, if a pharmaceutical company developed a product that could be reasonably used to eradicate a disease, a push to eradicate that disease would be an enormous windfall for the company. (Still, to be fair, unless it's something that's available cheaply, eradication is nearly impossible, since a lot of the drug needs to be provided to poor people and countries.)

I think it's more that eradicating diseases isn't a pharmaceutical-research priority because you can't do it simply be developing a drug.

On track for december 2012. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29483475)

Now we got the "bacon flu" AND this plague, so we're good.

Re:On track for december 2012. (1)

colmore (56499) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483575)

2012 is Y2K for hippies.

sw (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29483665)

I just... I was saving that bacon.

New virus name! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29483541)

We'll call it "I can't believe its not Plague"

Molecular genetics is tricky, dangerous work (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483555)

You have to be very smart, takes decades of education, and it can kill you in ways we haven't even discovered yet. And that's why they get the big bucks.

Plague bacteria? (0, Redundant)

Fear the Clam (230933) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483623)

Oh rats.

Oh no! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29483637)

Oh no! That's tragic!

You f4il it!? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29483645)

watersheD essay, [goat.cx]

My building (5, Interesting)

hyperion2010 (1587241) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483717)

So I work in the same building as this lab, use the same elevators, touch the same door handles etc. I'm not too worried, but plenty of people are and have been since they started working with your *more dangerous than ecoli* varieties. What really pissed me off is that if I had not heard about this from a PI down the hall yeasterday I would have found out about this through /. I can understand why the UoC doesnt send out alerts like this via email to everyone, but some people do need to know. The PI down the hall basically said "shit shit, god damn it, shit, the cdc will be here to deal with and who knows if we'll be allowed to stay," probably a slight over-reaction, but as my mother the md mph said "this is one of those NEVER things." Anyway, I was very sorry to hear about this, also as TFA says, we really dont know if this was a opportunistic infection that was able to get in because he was already sick or what.

Re:My building (1)

Shag (3737) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484703)

What biosafety level (if any) is the lab?

How quickly can they retrofit it to be the next level up?

Re:My building (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29485099)

What biosafety level (if any) is the lab?

From TFA: "Lab researchers who work with the bacteria would typically wear gloves, a lab coat and protective goggles, and the bacteria would be disposed of in a biohazard bag and heated for about two hours, Alexander said."

So, BSL1, the "Maybe don't keep it in the same fridge as your lunch" level.

Apparently you only need BSL2 to work with (unmodified) Y. pestis, though (CDC link [state.or.us] ), so it's not exactly "special procedures", either.

Speaking of Movies (0, Redundant)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483731)

Plague. Death. Otherwise healthy individuals.

'Toxic Skies'.

The only difference is there's no mention of chemtrails in the Sun-Times article. Of course, there wouldn't be, would there.

Plague != Plaque (1)

suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483787)

Ah, whew. I misread the summary; I was afraid that not brushing my teeth was going to kill me one of these days.

Jumping the Gun (4, Insightful)

drbuzz0 (1638167) | more than 4 years ago | (#29483815)

This is newsworthy if he actually died from this strain which we had thought was not dangerous. Considering that it has been used as a vaccine and plenty of others have been exposed without any ill effects, it seems like concluding that the plague bacteria is what killed him is very premature. There's no direct evidence that this is the cause of death - there is no cause of death as of yet.

The autopsy showed "showed no obvious cause of death" except for the presence of the weakened strain of the plague bacteria Yersinia pestis in his blood, the U. of C. Medical Center said in a statement."

That is far from conclusive, especially given that there aren't any reports that he developed the symptoms of the infection before dying. Chances are we'll get some more conclusive information as they continue to review the case and the data from the autopsy along with tissue samples and toxicology tests. However, there is the possibility that the cause of death will not be known. There are a number of deaths each year in otherwise healthy people which can't be conclusively proven to be caused by a single cause.

penicillin? (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484007)

Don't they have penicillin in Chicago? really? This guy died from studying the plague and it didn't occur to him to get some antibiotics?

Playing with fire (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484099)

If you play with fire, you will eventually get burned. You can talk about precautions and safety measures and such. Human beings make errors. The more complete they believe the security precautions to be, the more likely they are to become careless of the dangers. More than enough people have read the book or seen the movie "The Stand". Someday, someone will be looking back at Stephen King's work or Legend and will be amazed at how prophetic it was.

It's really more like predicting that there will be a terrible NASCAR crash and a much loved driver will be killed. It's really only a matter of time.

You! (2, Funny)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484347)

In Soviet Chicago, plague study you!

Ogh... It been... (0, Redundant)

JAlexoi (1085785) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484475)

It's been a long time since we had a plague on our hands, maybe it's time for comeback of that disease?

Come on guys, get it right! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484787)

You were supposed to do this just after the 2012 'election' of the next Cheneyesque King/Dictator/Emperor to create just the right amount of fear to allow for the elimination of the last vestiges of the constitution.

And if you gaze for long into an abyss, (2, Insightful)

Lost Penguin (636359) | more than 4 years ago | (#29485731)

the abyss gazes also into you.
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