Posts Tagged ‘sexually transmitted disease’

by ISABELLA KWAI

The comedian John Oliver, who made a name for himself as host of an HBO talk show, will now have his name in a slightly more embarrassing locale: outside a koala chlamydia clinic in Australia.

While he is known for clever stunts — Oliver recently published a children’s book about a gay bunny and started a church — his latest prank may have backfired.

After Oliver revealed that he had bought several items from actor Russell Crowe’s divorce auction, Crowe found “a cool way” to honor him. That “cool way” turned out to be a ward at a zoo, now called “The John Oliver Koala Chlamydia Ward.”

We’ll explain: Here’s what you — and John Oliver — need to know about koala chlamydia.

Do koalas really have chlamydia?

Sadly, yes. Some surveys of koala populations in Queensland have suggested at least half of wild koalas are infected with the disease — possibly more.

Chlamydia, a sexually transmitted disease, causes conjunctivitis, which can lead to blindness, urinary-tract infections and infections of the reproductive organs that can lead to female infertility.

Researchers at the University of the Sunshine Coast discovered in April that a retrovirus was further weakening koalas, making them even more susceptible to chlamydia.

It’s not just chlamydia; dogs, loss of habitat, rapid urbanization and deaths from vehicles are also killing koalas. In some parts of Queensland, between 1994 and 2016, the koala population declined 80 percent.

In 2012, the federal government classified koalas as “vulnerable” in the states of New South Wales and Queensland and in the Australian Capital Territory. The Australia Zoo says that 40,000 to 100,000 koalas — a symbol of Australia’s unique wildlife — remain in the wild.

How is the disease transmitted?

Though transmitted through sex, koalas have little time for randy rooting, as the Australians call it, because they sleep about 20 hours a day. There are two main strains of bacteria that lead to chlamydia in the marsupials. The more common strain, Chlamydia pecorum, is responsible for most of the outbreak in Queensland and cannot be transmitted to humans. The second strain, C. pneumoniae, can infect humans if, say, an infected koala were to urinate on someone, though it’s unlikely.

Baby koalas, known as joeys, can also catch the disease from their mothers while nursing if they come into contact with infected feces.

Is there a cure?

For humans, treatment of the disease involves an embarrassing trip to the doctor for antibiotics (and maybe a few angry texts).

Antibiotics are also used to treat koalas, although they do not prevent re-infection and come with a host of unpleasant side effects. Research has shown that the treatment messes with the gut microbes that help them digest their leafy diet — meaning they can starve.

There have been successful trials of a vaccine to prevent infection in both healthy koalas and those in early stages of infection. Some of those experiments have taken place at the wildlife hospital where Oliver’s name now adorns the wall.

And don’t worry, the Australian government isn’t letting Oliver have all the credit: Monday, the New South Wales government announced a 45 million Australian dollar plan to save the state’s koalas. (That’s almost $34 million.)

What did John Oliver actually get?

Apart from his name forever memorialized with the words “koala chlamydia,” a ward in Oliver’s honor was donated at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital in Queensland. The ward will focus on treating and vaccinating koalas in that state.

“Thanks to your auction, you are now saving literally thousands of koala lives,” Bindi Irwin, daughter of conservationist Steve Irwin, who died in 2006, said in a video tweeted out by Crowe.

The reward was all too much for Oliver, who joked Sunday on his show, “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver,” that he was so overcome by the accomplishment that he was done hosting it.

“Don’t think of this as a sad occasion, because I leave you in total triumph …,” he said. “If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a date with some very contagious koalas.”

https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/what-you-and-john-oliver-need-to-know-about-koala-chlamydia/

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Marta Orellana was experimented on when she was nine. Photograph: Rory Carroll/Guardian

Lawsuit with 800 plaintiffs seeks damages for individuals, spouses and children of people deliberately infected with STDs through US government program.

Nearly 800 plaintiffs have launched a billion-dollar lawsuit against Johns Hopkins University over its alleged role in the deliberate infection of hundreds of vulnerable Guatemalans with sexually transmitted diseases, including syphilis and gonorrhea, during a medical experiment program in the 1940s and 1950s.

The lawsuit, which also names the philanthropic Rockefeller Foundation, alleges that both institutions helped “design, support, encourage and finance” the experiments by employing scientists and physicians involved in the tests, which were designed to ascertain if penicillin could prevent the diseases.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine held “substantial influence” over the commissioning of the research program by dominating panels that approved federal funding for the research, the suit claims.

The lawsuit asserts that a researcher paid by the Rockefeller Foundation was assigned to the experiments, which he travelled to inspect on at least six occasions.

The suit also claims that predecessor companies of the pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb supplied penicillin for use in the experiments, which they knew to be both secretive and non-consensual.

The experiments, which occurred between 1945 and 1956, were kept secret until they were discovered in 2010 by a college professor, Susan Reverby. The program published no findings and did not inform Guatemalans who were infected of the consequences of their participation, nor did it provide them with follow up medical care or inform them of ways to prevent the infections spreading, the lawsuit states.

Orphans, prisoners and mental health patients were deliberately infected in the experiments.

The plaintiffs’ case quotes the correspondence from one of the program’s lead researchers who tells another doctor that if it were discovered by “some goody organization” that the program was testing people who were mentally ill it would “raise a lot of smoke”. The manager continues: “I see no reason to say where the work was done and the type of volunteer.”

Baltimore-based attorney for the plaintiffs Paul Bekman told the Guardian that of the 774 claimants, about 60 were direct survivors of the program. Many have died as a result of deliberate infection and others had passed on disease to family members and partners.

“The people who are responsible [for carrying out the research] now are long dead,” said Bekman “But the records are there, and we have detailed documentation that supports the allegations in our complaint.”

Marta Orellana was a nine-year-old orphan when she was included in the experiments. In an interview with the Guardian in 2011 she recalled being forcibly examined by light-complexioned foreigners and a Guatemalan doctor in the orphanage infirmary.

“They never told me what they were doing, never gave me a chance to say no,” Orellana said. “I’ve lived almost my whole life without knowing the truth. May God forgive them.”

Included within the legal claim are graphic descriptions of some of the methods used by the researchers to infect their subjects:

During the experiments, the following occurred:
1.Prostitutes were infected with venereal disease and then provided for sex to subjects for intentional transmission of the disease;
2.Subjects were inoculated by injection of syphilis spirochaetes into the spinal fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord, under the skin, and on mucous membranes;
3.An emulsion containing syphilis or gonorrhoea was spread under the foreskin of the penis in male subjects;
4.The penis of male subjects was scraped and scarified and then coated with the emulsion containing syphilis or gonorrhea;
5.A woman from the psychiatric hospital was injected with syphilis, developed skin lesions and wasting, and then had gonorrhoeal pus from a male subject injected into both of her eyes and;
6.Children were subjected to blood studies to check for the presence of venereal disease.

The then secretary of state Hillary Clinton apologised for the programme in 2010 after a presidential bioethics commission investigation found the experiments “involved unconscionable basic violations of ethics”.

A federal lawsuit for damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act failed in 2012 after a judge determined the US government cannot be held liable for actions outside the US. Bekman told the Guardian he believed the new lawsuit stood a greater chance of success as it was lodged in the state court of Maryland and against private entities.

Both Johns Hopkins University and the Rockefeller Foundation have vigorously denied any involvement in the experiments.

A spokeswoman for Johns Hopkins School of Medicine said the institute expressed “profound sympathy” for the victims of the experiments and their families, but added: “Johns Hopkins did not initiate, pay for, direct of conduct the study in Guatemala. No nonprofit university or hospital has ever been held liable for a study conducted by the US government.”

The university stated it would “vigorously defend” the lawsuit.

The Rockefeller Foundation issued a detailed response to the claim online, which it described as seeking to “improperly to assign ‘guilt by association’ in the absence of compensation from the United States federal government”.

The statement continued: “In the absence of a connection to the Rockefeller Foundation, the lawsuit attempts to connect the Foundation to the experiments through misleading characterizations of relationships between the Foundation and individuals who were in some way associated with the experiments.”

A spokeswoman for Bristol-Myers Squibb declined to comment.

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/apr/02/johns-hopkins-lawsuit-deliberate-std-infections-guatemala

Thank to Kebmodee.