Medical Fun Facts Episode 70: What is a pandemic

Medical Fun Facts Episode 70: What is a pandemic

What’s the difference between seasonal influenza and pandemic influenza?

Each season small genetic changes occur in the main circulating influenza viruses

When this happens, there is sufficient antigenic difference that our immunological memory won’t provide full protection but only some cross protection.

The changes in the antigens are usually only small, they drift a bit, hence antigenic drift.

The changes accumulate so then the difference is big enough a person who has been infected previously may get infected again and develop influenza the disease

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Medical Fun Facts Episode 69: The microbiology of a popular sexual position

Medical Fun Facts Episode 69: The microbiology of a popular sexual position

Tonight, I’m going to do my best to use medical language rather than colloquial phrases and terms. That said, some may creep in. The number 69, has a significant place in modern popular culture. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about and if you’re conservatively minded, you may not want to listen further. If you have children listening who haven’t had their home and school sexual education sessions yet, you may want them to listen in if they’re not familiar with oral sex and human health.

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Medical Fun Facts Episode 68: Congenital infections

Medical Fun Facts Episode 68: Congenital infections

Tonight, I’m talking about congenital infections

What is a congenital infection? What causes them? How are they diagnosed? How are they treated?

Congenital infections affect the fetus and neonate.

They’re often caused by viruses but bacteria and some parasites can also cause congenital infections.

The infection can occur at any period during a pregnancy.

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Medical Fun Facts Episode 67: Is sous vide safe

Medical Fun Facts Episode 67: Is sous vide safe

Last week a friend who listens to Medical Fun Facts asked me if sous vide cooking chicken was safe.

I’ve been wanting to get a sous vide cooker for some time so this question really interested me. Some of you may know that I also have a food blog at http://YummyLummy.com

If you’re not familiar with sous vide, it’s basically cooking food that has been vacuum sealed. The food is cooked at relatively low temperature for an extended period. The whole process ensures food is not overcooked and remains succulent. Most foods apparently can be cooked using this method.

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Medical Fun Facts Episode 66: Tweaking your assays

Medical Fun Facts Episode 66: Tweaking your assays

I was recently asked how can diagnostic tests be made more sensitive.

Not long ago in episode 52 I discussed the limitations of diagnostic tests. It’s probably worth going back to that episode and listening again or reading the show notes.

Sensitivity is simply defined as the ability of a test to detect a true positive. We want our diagnostic tests to be highly sensitive so that when we receive a positive result we can be confident the result reflects the presence of disease. Likewise, we want our tests to be specific too. Specificity is the ability of a test to exclude a true negative. That means we want a negative result to really mean an absence of the disease. What we don’t want though are tests that are so sensitive that we cannot trust the result, or more accurately, we cannot interpret the result adequately in the context of the patient in front of us. For example, PCR for the diagnosis of clinical chlamydia as well as screening sexually active asymptomatic people as part of a sexual health screen is regarded as the gold standard. The problem is that PCR cannot be used for test of cure because it is too sensitive. It will detect the nucleic acid from dead bacteria that are yet to be removed by neutrophils and other cellular inflammatory mechanisms.

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