Quantum Sufficit

Just Enough



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Am Fam Physician. 2007 Sep 1;76(5):623.

Does listening to music in a thunderstorm increase the risk of being struck by lightning?

For one Canadian man, lightning and earphones don't mix, suggests correspondence published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Canadian doctors reported treating a patient who had second-degree burns on his neck, chest, left leg, and face. At the time of the injury, the patient was jogging outdoors and listening to an iPod when an adjacent tree was struck by lightning, throwing him nearly 8 feet from the tree. The patient's eardrums were ruptured and his mandible was fractured in four places, most likely because the muscles in his jaw violently contracted from the electric current. The authors note that lightning is often conducted on the outside of the body, so ossicular injuries are rare. In this patient, however, the combination of perspiration and the metal in his earphones helped direct the electric current from the lightning to his head. (N Engl J Med, July 12, 2007)

Heat warnings often go unheeded by older people

▪ Can you beat the heat? Study results from the International Journal of Biometeorology suggest that many older North Americans think they can. The author conducted a telephone survey of 908 adults 65 years and older who lived in Dayton, Ohio; Philadelphia, Pa.; Phoenix, Ariz.; and Toronto, Ontario, Canada, to determine how heat warnings affect their behavior. Ninety percent of the participants were aware of heat warnings, but only 70 percent said they did anything in response to the warnings, and only 50 percent changed their behavior. One third of all participants also admitted that they were reluctant to turn on their air conditioners because of the cost. Notably, the author found that some Phoenix residents were proud to say they could survive no matter how hot it was outside. (Int J Biometeorol, July 2007)

Fly larvae extracted from a patient's head

▪ Initially, physicians thought that the bleeding bumps on one man's head could be gnat bites or shingles, but the various salves and creams that were prescribed didn't help. However, when the bumps started to move, one physician discovered that they were active, live bot fly larvae. The larvae, which are about one third of the size of a penny, were living in an open pit 2 to 3 mm wide beneath the surface of the patient's skin. The five larvae eventually were removed. Experts believe that the infestation may have occurred while the patient was on vacation in Belize this summer. (ABCNews.com, July 17, 2007)

Trampoline-related injuries are on the rise

▪ Parents won't jump for joy when they read the results of a study published in Academic Emergency Medicine. According to the study, emergency department visits for injuries caused by trampolines have increased by 113 percent since 1990. Using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, researchers analyzed visits to the emergency department for nonfatal injuries from trampolines for patients 18 years or younger. The researchers found that 88,563 visits to the emergency department occurred from 2000 to 2005, compared with only 41,600 visits from 1990 to 1995. Most of the injuries among children younger than five years were fractures, whereas soft tissue injuries were more common in older children. In addition, 95 percent of the injuries during both study periods happened while the children were at home. The authors note that trampolines are not safe, and children should not be allowed to use them. (Acad Emerg Med, July 2007)

Tainted hot dog chili sauce linked to botulism

▪ Well, hot dog! Or maybe not. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently warned consumers to throw away cans of Castleberry's, Austex, and Kroger brands of hot dog chili sauce that may be tainted with Clostridium botulinum after four cases of botulism were reported. Botulism contamination is extremely rare for commercially canned products, and the last reported case occurred in the 1970s; rather, most cases of toxin contamination typically involve foods that have been canned in the home. The FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition suggests that consumers dispose of the contaminated cans before opening them because the toxin is so potent that any contact with the contents could cause illness. (CBS News, July 19, 2007)



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