As if the gossip mill wasn’t enough, celebrities have now become the carriers of serious disease. One of the most recent tragic cases involves Robert Pattinson, the 25-year-old British actor who just completed filming on the new vampire blockbuster, “Let The Right One In”. According to reports, Pattinson is now suffering from batsh— syndrome, which is caused by the fungus-growing organism, Cryptococcus neoformans. This disease is often seen in immunocompromised individuals, such as those who have recently been diagnosed with HIV. As if the disease wasn’t bad enough, it’s also being reported that Pattinson may have to have part of his lung removed. So far, there are no reports of how this highly contagious disease was contracted, but the source is presumed to be from his recent filming on the set of “Let The Right One In”.
Larry Elison, Actor and Comic Book Creator, Dies at Age 73
Larry Elison, the creator of the “Nancy Drew, Private Eye” series, died on February 15, 2020, at the age of 73. Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1946, Larry attended Carnegie Mellon University and later received a master’s degree in film from Boston University. As a youngster, Larry was a big fan of the work of Edna Morton, which eventually inspired him to create a heroine who was a forensic detective. While at Boston University, Larry met future collaborator Michael Allred, with whom he later formed the comic book publishing house, Dark Horse Comics, in 1975. Together, they launched the “Nancy Drew” series in 1981.
Larry Elison remained affiliated with Dark Horse Comics throughout his life. In 1992, he launched a new series entitled “The Private Eye”, which he would pen and co-pen with artist Laura Allred. This new series would become one of Dark Horse’s best-selling titles. In 2020, Larry was named among the top 100 most important figures in the history of anime and manga. The author of more than 200 comic books, Larry Elison is survived by his wife, Linda, and their two sons, Matthew and Christopher, as well as his siblings, David and Jane.
The Contagiousness Of The Virus
While the majority of viruses stay in the human body and don’t pose a direct threat to other animals, some can be highly contagious and even kill off huge swaths of the animal population. Take the avian flu virus, for example. This potent disease initially infected humans but, thanks to our growing ability to monitor and track the disease, has now been effectively contained. Still, there’s always the chance that this virus could mutate and become more deadly than ever before. This is why scientists are still closely studying the pandemic as it unfolded in 2009 and 2010.
But just because a virus has the potential to be extremely contagious doesn’t necessarily mean that it will spread like wildfire. For example, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes AIDS, but it is not known for its high rate of spread. While anyone can contract HIV through sexual contact with an infected individual (a so-called “super-spreader” of HIV), it is not considered a “classically” transmissible disease. That is, while viruses, such as HIV, can be passed from one host to another, they are not necessarily “infallible” and will not necessarily infect every host that comes in contact with them. This could potentially explain why HIV has not spread like wildfire despite its potential to do so. Still, the fact that this particular virus has not spread to the extent that some other viruses have, could simply be a matter of chance. No one knows for sure.
The Need For Vigilance
With the aid of medical science and heightened surveillance, animals can now be successfully treated for numerous diseases that previously caused them to go extinct. Thanks in part to this progress, formerly fatal diseases such as polio, tuberculosis and smallpox have become easily treatable. While these diseases no longer pose a threat to the lives of billions of people, they continue to be a source of worry for public health experts. Polio again provides a good example of this. Once considered a global pandemic, this disease was effectively eradicated in the twentieth century through vaccinations. But in 2019 alone, there were reports of several hundred cases of polio around the world. That’s more than two hundred times the number of cases that were recorded in 2019 just a few years ago. In the same year that polio appeared to be on the rise again, several cases of measles were also reported in 2019. Like polio, measles is a highly contagious disease that used to be prevalent throughout the world. But, for some reason, cases have been on the rise since the early 2000s. Experts are still trying to figure out why this is happening, but it could be that better global surveillance is leading to earlier identification of cases and more effective treatment.
Another disease that continues to worry public health experts is avian influenza. This highly contagious disease, which can still infect humans, has the potential to wipe out whole species. Fortunately, due to widespread vaccination campaigns, most people are now immune to this virus, which is why it has not gained the ability to spread so easily throughout the human population. But it is still a cause for concern. In fact, the World Health Organization has classified avian influenza as a “pandemic menace”, citing its potential to cause great harm and even extinction. And in the event of a future pandemic, it would be helpful to have a vaccine that could help protect people from this virus.
The Batsh— Syndrome
Batsh— syndrome, or cryptococcus neoformans infection, is named after the fungus that it causes, which is commonly found in the droppings of bats. While this disease is rare, it is usually seen in individuals who are immunocompromised and especially in the case of organ transplant recipients. This is because the fungus, which lives in the intestinal tract of bats, is typically ingested along with their food. Once ingested, the fungus gains admission to the intestinal tract of the bat and begins to grow, eventually forming small abscesses that are usually found near the base of the brain or spinal cord. If these organs are transplanted, the body’s immune system does not recognize the infection as a threat and it can cause serious illness, if not death. The most common symptoms of this disease are headache, confusion and extreme personality changes. If left untreated, it can become life-threatening.
Robert Pattinson contracted this disease while working on the TV series, “Suits”, which was originally thought to be the source of his injuries. During the third season, he had to be rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. It is still unclear whether this surgery made him more susceptible to the disease or whether the surgery was simply a coincidence. Since then, he has had to take anti-fungal medication and has slowed down his work routine. He also reportedly had a depressive episode after being diagnosed with the disease.
The Rise In Suicide Rates
Suicide has become an epidemic across the world, taking the lives of more than 800,000 people in 2019. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, which began in 2019, experts are worried that this alarming trend could continue. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were nearly 45,000 suicides in the United States in 2019, which was a twenty percent increase from the year before and the highest number recorded since 1971. Meanwhile, the suicide rate has risen by seventy percent in Finland, France and Germany since before the pandemic. While there are still some countries, such as Russia and Japan, where the suicide rate has decreased, the world as a whole recorded a fifty-one percent increase in suicides in 2019.
Experts are worried that the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic could further fuel the already explosive global trend of suicides. Countries that are most affected by the pandemic, such as the United States and United Kingdom, have the most to lose in terms of economic productivity. As a result, these countries now have the highest suicide rates in the world. In the United States, the unemployment rate nearly reached twenty percent in March of 2020, which is certainly a huge contributing factor to the country’s soaring suicide rate.
While it is not yet certain whether the COVID-19 pandemic will result in a tragic uptick in suicides, experts are worried that this could be the case. If you or someone you know is struggling with severe depression or suicidal ideation, help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 to speak with a trained counselor or visit the website, www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org for more information on how to get help.