Remember these names. Aimee Copeland, Tad Hawley, Bobby Vaughn, Lana Kuykendall, and now Keith Korth. They are at the forefront of what might be a Worldwide epidemic. All have contracted NF, or necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh eating bacteria. Keith Korth, a 44 year old man from Brenham, Texas, is the latest victim of this debilitating and deadly disease.
The main culprit is a very well known bacterium, streptococcus pyogenes, which causes something you may have heard of, strep throat. Strep Throat, if left untreated, becomes Scarlet fever, which in turn causes a variety of other health problems, one of which is valvular heart disease, or more specifically, Mitral Valve Prolapse.
As reported by WHO, the World Health Organization, Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus, GAS) is an important species of Gram-positive extracellular bacterial pathogen which colonizes the throat or skin and is responsible for a broad spectrum of diseases that range from simple and uncomplicated pharyngitis and skin infections (impetigo, erysipelas, and cellulitis) to scarlet fever and life-threatening invasive illnesses including pneumonia, bacteremia, necrotizing fasciitis, streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (TSS), and nonsuppurative sequelae such as acute rheumatic fever, reactive arthritis and glomerulonephritis.
Unfortunately, more victims will be discovered in the weeks and months ahead, I’m sure.
Then there’s Shanyna Isom from Memphis, Tn, A 28 year old woman and full time student at the University of Memphis who is suffering from a serious unknown illness. What started out as a routine visit to the local E.R. for an asthma attack, has developed into a skin deformity of unknown nature. Shanyna received a large dose of steroids for the asthma, a standard treatment, but upon returning home, began itching uncontrollably. Doctors then prescribed Benadryl, to no avail, as it got worse not better. It was then determined that she was having an allergic reaction to the steroid treatment.
“Black scabs were coming out of her skin,” said her mother, Kathy Gary. “The nails would grow so long and come out and regrow themselves. They are hard to touch and stick you. It was uncontrollable and we didn’t know what it was.” Soon her legs turned black. “It looked as if she had been in a house fire and gotten burned,” said Gary. “We could not figure out what was going on, she was just breaking out everywhere. Her body was scabbed all over.” The Doctor then told her to prepare for the worst. “He said she would be like that for the rest of her life,” said Gary. “But I couldn’t accept that.”
Then they went north to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD for treatment. The doctors there couldn’t cure it, but were able to control it. It appears that Isom’s body produces twelve times the number of skin cells per hair follicle. This causes her skin to suffocate, and instead of growing hair, the skin cells produce human nails. Isom’s own description is more blunt: “where hair grows, nails are growing.” Isom’s face and arms are covered in a tiny needle like protrusions made of human nails.
The Doctors at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore told her that she is the only person in the world with this unknown condition. Though she has seen some of the best specialists in the world, the origins of this aggressive disease remain unclear.
Researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine have identified a previously unknown mechanism by which cells direct gene expression, the process by which information from a gene is used to direct the physical and behavioral development of individuals.
Using a combined approach of structural and molecular biology, a team of researchers led by Ming-Ming Zhou, PhD, Professor and Chair, Structural and Chemical Biology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, determined that the molecular interactions between proteins are very different than previously thought, and that they play an essential role in the initiation of gene transcription of muscle and the heart. Gene transcription is the first step to gene expression, a cellular process that occurs in response to physiological and environmental stimuli, and is dictated by chemical modifications of the DNA and histones, which are the proteins responsible for packaging the DNA.
So limited progress has been made, but Shanyna still needs help. A blog has been created for her, and if you want to help, you can view it here. http://shayeisom.blogspot.com/
Her medical bills are approaching $500,000 dollars, and help is indicated.
The S.I.A. foundation is accepting donations are Isom’s behalf, as well as Bank of America locations nationwide.
So again, what is happening? Why are these diseases emerging or re-emerging. As reported by WHO, the World Health Organization, thirty previously unknown diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, Ebola, hepatitis C, Lyme disease, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) have emerged in the past 20 years. They remain incurable. These emerging diseases represent a significant cause of suffering and death, and impose an enormous financial burden on society. Studies show that pandemics of new strains of influenza and other emerging diseases are travelling faster and wider than ever before owing to global travel and trade. Some “older” diseases have been effectively controlled with the help of modern technologies, such as antibiotics and vaccines; others, such as malaria, TB and bacterial pneumonia, are now re-emerging in forms resistant to drug treatments.
Worldwide outbreaks of diseases and or bacterium and viruses have been brought to the fore in recent months, and should be taken very seriously. Protect yourself and your family. Education is the key. I hope I have provided you with that.
A final word from WHO: A disease outbreak is the occurrence of cases of disease in excess of what would normally be expected in a defined community, geographical area or season. An outbreak may occur in a restricted geographical area, or may extend over several countries. It may last for a few days or weeks, or for several years.
A single case of a communicable disease long absent from a population, or caused by an agent (e.g. bacterium or virus) not previously recognized in that community or area, or the emergence of a previously unknown disease, may also constitute an outbreak and should be reported and investigated.
So, are we headed down the road to the point of no return? Will these types of things proliferate moving forward? Can Scientists and Doctors help to prevent this from happening.
ONE CAN ONLY WONDER.