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Bats, Booze, Bugs, Birds, Blood And Bushmeat (ICEID 4)

Since I started electing to do blog coverage of scientific meetings, I’ve run into an unfortunate reality. On any meeting day, there are one or two presentations that either are strikingly newsworthy or fit into an ongoing topic that I’m already interested in, and that therefore I feel obliged to write about. That means I’m unable to cover dozens, sometimes hundreds, of other interesting papers and posters.

I feel bad about this, especially when authors stop what they are doing to talk to me. So here’s my admittedly insufficient remedy: a quick round-up of a few of the hundreds of intriguing presentations this past week at the biennial International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases. (Program here; it’s a pdf, abstracts not individually searchable.) Apologies to everyone whom I didn’t get to.

Clostridium difficile is not just a hospital problem. In 2010, in a 23-town area of Connecticut, 704 people developed the devastating intestinal infection C. diff in association with a hospital stay — but 183 people who had no connection to healthcare contracted C. diff as well. (“Community Associated Clostridium difficile Infection in Select New Haven, Connecticut, Area Towns: 2010,” C. Lyons et al.)

Nipah virus’s complex ecology includes bats… and booze. Four of the eight known cases of Nipah virus infection identified in northern Bangladesh between January and March 2011 arose from home-brewed hooch known as tari that is fermented from date-palm sap. The bats that transmit Nipah may have chewed on the palm fruit, or pooped on it. Occasionally, the brewers fished dead bats out of their open pots of moonshine, but sold it anyway. (“Nipah Transmission from Bats to Humans Associated with Drinking Traditional Liquor (Tari) in Northern Bangladesh, 2011,” M. Islam et al.)

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