Skeptical Raptor's Blog hunting pseudoscience in the internet jungle

Vaccine denialists hate Bill Gates

One of the world’s leading sponsors of vaccine research and bringing healthcare (including vaccinations) to underdeveloped countries is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundationlocated in Seattle, Washington. There is nothing more admirable and moral than a person who has built incredible wealth, and then decides to give it back to the world in a way that cannot be measure monetarily. Bill Gates’ foundation is working to eradicate polio and HIV in countries where they are the some of the leading causes of death. 
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Limbless amphibian family discovered in India

Although the animals in the picture look like the common earthworms, they are actually a new family of legless amphibians that live in the soil in India.  Researchers in India have discovered seven new species of the family deep in the soil.

Apparently, these rather ugly amphibians grow up to a meter long.  I’m not sure I’d want to find one in my backyard soil.

via Nature News Blog: Limbless amphibian family discovered in India.

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Mormons baptize Mahatma Gandhi–offensive in so many ways

I just wrote about Mormon’s baptizing Anne Frank, the young girl who hid from Nazis trying to murder her and her family during World War II, and who eventually died in a concentration camp.  Now another proxy baptism is reported–Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, also known as Mahatma Gandhi, was the founder of modern India, a great believer in non-violent protest, and a practicing Hindu.  Again, this is offensive for the same reasons why it was disgusting to baptize Anne Frank–Gandhi is a great human and symbol of India.  He was not, nor ever would have been, a Mormon.
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India rejects ‘total drug resistant TB’ claim

BBC News – India rejects ‘total drug resistant TB’ claim.

As opposed to early reports that I’ve discussed previously about the totally drug resistant tuberculosis strain that has appeared in India, the Indian government seems to state otherwise.  I’ll wait until a published article appears somewhere.

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A year without polio in India

A year without polio in India > Media room > Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

In two years, India went from the country with the most cases of polio to one with zero cases.  They didn’t do this with magic water or pseudoscience, but good old fashioned vaccines.

We can be polio free

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Totally Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis in India

Totally Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis in India.

Along with HIV and malaria, tuberculosis (TB) is one of the most dangerous diseases in the world.  According to the World Health Organization, there were 8.8 million new worldwide cases of TB, along with 1.4 million deaths in 2010.  TB is difficult to treat, usually taking over six months with antibiotics that sometimes have difficult side effects.

Also, because of low patient compliance, misdiagnosis, and other issues, multi-drug resistant (MDR) and extensively drug-resistant (XDR) versions of TB can arise in a population. MDR is resistant to the first-choice drugs, requiring treatment with a larger cocktail of  one or more of the nine different “second-line” antibiotics, which are less effective, have more adverse effects, and can take much longer to effect a cure, up to 2 years or more. XDR TB is resistant to the three first-line drugs and several of the nine antibiotics usually considered as second line choices.

As the article states:

The vast majority of these unfortunate patients seek care from private physicians in a desperate attempt to find a cure for their tuberculosis. This sector of private-sector physicians in India is among the largest in the world and these physicians are unregulated both in terms of prescribing practice and qualifications. A study that we conducted in Mumbai showed that only 5 of 106 private practitioners practicing in a crowded area called Dharavi could prescribe a correct prescription for a hypothetical patient with MDR tuberculosis. The majority of prescriptions were inappropriate and would only have served to further amplify resistance, converting MDR tuberculosis to XDR tuberculosis and TDR tuberculosis.

The spread of this disease could be quicker than some other infectious disease (like HIV), because of how easily it’s spread (one patient can infect up to 15 others before diagnosis and treatment), and, of course, the lack of viable antibiotics for XDR TB.

Right now, the infection seems to be in a small subgroup of TB patients in India (and Iran) in a border region that has poor medical care.  However, given the lack of effective antibiotics means that we’re all in this together.

The interesting fact about the title of the article–the authors seem to have invented a new subset of TB, Totally Drug Resistant.

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