- Until the middle of March 2021, there was a sense that India had somehow miraculously averted the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The first wave had almost fully abated by the end of 2020, and life was returning to normal. Then came the ferocious second wave, which at its peak in early May was marked by 400,000 confirmed daily new cases, and more than 400 daily deaths by official counts.1 India’s deadly second wave had many lessons for the world. First, it demonstrated that abandoning protective measures like masks and distancing before achieving herd immunity can have devastating consequences.
- Injections are an essential component of modern medicine. Pascal is credited with inventing the first modern syringe in 1650, although Roman and Greek literature alludes to syringe-like devices used both for medical procedures and for nonmedical purposes such as changing the pitch of musical instruments.1 Francis Rynd, an Irish physician, invented the hollow metal needle and used it to administer the first recorded subcutaneous injections in 1844. Today, needles and syringes are used for prevention (vaccines), diagnosis (contrast material, radioactive isotopes, and blood tests), and treatment (antibiotics, chemotherapy, insulin, sedatives, pain medications, and fluids) in various health care settings.
- Edward Jenner, the creator of the smallpox vaccine, is widely accepted as being the father of modern vaccinology. Smallpox, a highly contagious viral infection, has changed the course of human history, caused the fall of monarchies, and resulted in untold suffering and death through the ages. Early on, it was realized that recovery from smallpox resulted in lifelong immunity, although infections often left people scarred for life. This led to the practice of “variolation” or transfer of material from smallpox scabs of infected people to healthy individuals to induce immunity.
- Travel and migration may communicate many things, including the risk of infectious diseases. In this issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Bezalel et al1 present their retrospective analysis of patients diagnosed with leprosy over a 23-year period at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Six of the 9 patients were born outside the United States, whereas the remaining 3 were born in the United States.
- For decades, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has been the most commonly identified multidrug-resistant pathogen in many parts of the world, including the United States. Recently, it has become the focus of intense media attention. Some of this attention stems from a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association that provided estimates of MRSA infections annually in the United States.1 (The occurrence of the word “staph” increased by 10-fold in the 2 weeks after this report.
- Not since the threat of a potential SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) pandemic (in 2003) has medical news captured as much national media attention as in the recent few weeks. Tuberculosis (TB) has been in the public eye since news broke that Andrew Speaker, a 31-year-old US citizen and attorney from Atlanta, Ga, was a passenger on international commercial airline flights while infected with a very resistant strain of TB and that he has since been placed in isolation by US health authorities.
- Avian influenza or “bird flu” first moved from being an obscure disease known only to veterinarians to a widely recognized global health issue in 1997 when an outbreak caused by the H5N1 strain of the influenza A virus was reported in poultry being sold in the huge live animal markets of Hong Kong. While outbreaks of avian influenza in domestic poultry and other birds are common, the uniqueness of this outbreak was the fact that, for what was thought to be the first time, there was documented transmission of a virulent avian influenza virus to humans.