Monday, May 16, 2011

Do you know the difference between Gonorrhea and Syphilis?

I was talking this morning with Germanman, we were discussing Lyme disease and he said: "it's from a spirochete, just like Gonorrhea" I was completely shocked. He is a 39y old man, who happens to be a science writer and yet, he doesn't know the difference between gonorrhea and syphilis. I don't expect everyone to know that they are caused by 2 very different types of bacteria but, EVERYONE should at least know they are 2 different types of diseases! Lets clear the air:

- Gonorrhea. Caused by the diplococci Neisseria gonorrhoeae (usually found in pairs, looks like 2 kidney beans together). In guys it causes infection of the urethra. It is very painful to pee and there is a profuse secretion of a purulent discharge (white-yellowish). In women it infects the vagina, they can also have purulent discharge and it's itchy. Sometimes it can be completely asymptomatic.

- Syphilis. Caused by the spirochete Treponema pallidum (looks like a piece of phone cord (remember phone cords?)). In both men and women it presents like an abscess (a nasty pimple) that can grow and it also secretes pus, sometimes it can look darker on the edges and it is very very painful. If left untreated syphilis can be a chronic infection. The spirochetes actually reach the brain and can cause early dementia (after 30y of being infected).

These STDs are not 100% prevented by the use of condoms, if there is any genital contact, not just penetration, they can be transmitted. The best policy is always ask a new sexual partner to be tested BEFORE you engage in sexual activities. Also, if anyone in the couple notices any of the symptoms I described above you BOTH should go to the doctor right away.

Monday, May 2, 2011

DNA match

After I saw today that "DNA matching confirmed that Osama Bin Laden was killed" my immediate response was: what are they using as reference?

Let me elaborate. To match someone's DNA you need to have a reference sample in file and then match a new sample to the old one. You can't ID someone based solely on one sample, you need a comparison.

So, someone in the US government needed to have a DNA sample from Osama from years ago. Here is the kicker, nowadays you can obtain DNA from almost any biological sample but, that was not the case 10+ years ago, the technology was not as developed as it is now. They needed to take a pretty big sample, blood in a test tube for example. But, why would the government have a sample like that from Osama given that before 9/11 no one cared that he was a crazy bastard. If the sample was acquired after 9/11 it would make no sense given that "no one knew where he was".

Granted they could use his son's DNA to compare (his son's DNA would be 50% similar to Osama's DNA) but with that they could only guarantee that the dead person was the father of the son, not that it was Osama bin Laden. I don't want to be a party pooper but I would not believe in a DNA test unless they told me how they got their reference. Just saying.