Attention: Band Campers
Clean your instruments! A new report details the death of a bagpiper due to long-term inhalation of disease-causing fungi camped out in his instrument. "Wind instrument players need to be aware of the importance of regularly cleaning their instruments and of potential risks. Physicians should be aware of this potential risk factor and promote wind instrument hygiene," write the study's authors.
Ultrasound Lifts Coma
A 25-year-old California patient who had been in a coma showed dramatic recovery after treatment with low-power, non-invasive ultrasound to his thalamus, a sensory relay center in the brain. Three days after the single treatment, the man, who had previously been barely responsive, recovered "full language comprehension and consciousness." His doctors at UCLA caution the study will need to be replicated, as the patient's recovery might have been coincidental, but the procedure may offer a very low-risk method to "wake up" comatose brains.
Patty Duke and Sepsis
NPR aired an informative piece on sepsis this week, but failed to note the most prominent sepsis victim, actress Patty Duke, who passed away last spring in her hometown of Coeur d'Alene. The blood-borne infection can occur after even a seemingly minor injury and is blamed for 250,000 deaths each year in the United States. Symptoms include a rapid change in mental status, fever, rapid heart rate and low blood pressure. Prompt diagnosis can mean the difference between life and death. "Don't assume health care providers have it covered," experts advise. If you or someone you're caring for has these symptoms, ask the health care provider directly: "Do you think it might be sepsis?"